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HOME, SWEET HOME. 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 
in 2010 witii funding from 
Duke University Libraries 



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HOME, SWEET HOME. 



% lobcl 



MRS. EIDDELL, 

AUIHOB OF 

'GKOKGE GEITH,"""T00 MUCH ALOKB," "THE EARL'S PROMISE,' 

ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. I. 




LONDON : 

TINSLEY BROTHERS, 8, CATHERINE STREET, STRAND. 
1873. 

[^All righit of Translation and Beproduciion are referoed.^ 



LONDON : 
SAVILL, KDWAKDS iND CO., PRINlliKS, CHAND03 STUKHT, 
COVENT GARDliN. 






TO 



Mks. FREDERICK NOLAN, 



A SLIGHT TOKEN OF THE AUTHOli S EJiGAItD AND liSTEEM, 



THIS LOOK 



|s ^fectioitatflg ^cbicaieb. 



CONTENTS 



THE FIRST VOLUME. 



CHAP. PAGE 

I. THE GREAT HOUSE . 1 

II. MY WORLDLY PROSPECTS .21 

III. NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE ..... 40 

IV. QUIET TALK 65 

V. AT FAIRPORT 85 

Vr. AT THE OPERA . 97 

VII. IN THE TWILIGHT 125 

VIII. MISS CLEEVES ........... 140 

IX. I SING ............. 15G 

X. OUR VISITOR 168 

XL I AM DECEIVED 190 

XII. MISS CLEEVES' OPINIONS ....... 220 

XIII. SHADOWS 242 

XIV. MISS WIFFORDE MANOEUVRES ...... 274 



Home, Sweet Home. 



CHAPTER I. 




THE GREAT HOUSE. 

LARGE, old-fashioned, rambling 
white house, with red-tiled roof, 
standing high up on the side of a 
steep green hill ; a background of dark fir- 
trees crowning that hill, belts of plantation 
running down to a split oak fence ; a long- 
broad strip of common-land, the turf smooth 
and close as velvet ; a narrow sandy country 
road — made up a landscape on which I 
gazed day after day, and year after year, 
from the windows of our cottao^e, till it 
became photographed on my bram, a very 
part and parcel of my memory. 

VOL. I. 1 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



It is not often people begin a story by 
telling what their eyes belield ; but I 
am compelled to do so, since that house 
and those trees, the green hillside, the 
sward across which lay broad shadows and 
broader patches of sunshine, always pass 
before my mind's eye when I sit down in 
the twilight and thuik about those early 
days which are now a portion of the long 
ago. 

My own home plays a very small part in 
the programme memory recalls when com- 
pared with that large white house, and the 
fir plantations reflected dark and grim 
against the horizon. 

In the surmner mornings, whilst the dew 
was still glittering on the grass, I used to 
lookup at "The Great House" — that was 
the name of the place — and seeing the 
blinds drawn close and the shutters un- 
opened, speculate concerning the lives led 
by human beings who lay so long a-bed. In 
the spring I longed to search the planta- 



THE GREAT HOUSE. 



tions for violets and wood anemones. 
When the autumn came, and the " family" 
departed, as was its wont, to a seaside re- 
sort some thirty miles distant, I have tres- 
passed amongst the firs in search of pine- 
cones, whilst all the time there was a 
terrible fascination for me in the idea of 
the large deserted rooms, of the high 
walled - in gardens where the flowers 
bloomed and the fruit ripened with never 
a one to admire or enjoy. Whilst winter's 
snows fell and winter's rain descended I 
was wont to marvel in what way the occu- 
pants of the Great House employed theii^ 
time. In brief, whether with hand shading 
my eyes or nose flattened against the 
window-panes, through mists of driving 
rain or a veil of softly faUing snow, I 
contemplated the view, that mansion on the 
hillside with wings — I did not mention the 
wings containing windows which resembled 
eyes — proved to me just what the far 
Western Land did to Columbus. 

1—2 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



Bits of strangely carved wood, fruits of 
unfamiliar hue, were borne over the waters 
to him, and he longed to go forth and dis- 
cover the country whence such wonders 
came. Waifs from that far-away sphere 
of society floated on the waves of imagi- 
nation into my heart, and I too, like 
Columbus, became unconsciously an ex- 
plorer. 

I have been to the Great House in my 
time. Yes ; and to a few other houses, 
which it is more than possible might never 
have been visited by me had those trees 
and that gaunt mansion failed to rear 
themselves before my childish sight. 

Not hio-her above our modest cottage 
stood the Great House than the family 
who abode in it ranked socially above our- 
selves. The Wiffordes had been " county 
people" from the beginnmg of time, and 
promised to be county people till the end 
of it. There never was a period of the 
world's history when a Wifforde of Love- 



THE GREAT HOUSE. 



dale had no existence ; and for a man in 
all Fairshire, in which county Lovedale is 
situated, to be ignorant of the name only 
proved that he must be a very new comer 
indeed, and have spent the previous por- 
tion of his life in the remotest wilds of 
England. As for us, there was a time 
when it would have seemed to me the 
height of presumption to mention the Mot- 
fields and the Wiffordes in the same 
breath. We were very insignificant folks 
indeed — insignificant not merely as com- 
pared with " county families," but insig- 
nificant also as compared with any one 
above the condition of a labourer. My 
grandfather had been only a small yeoman, 
farming his limited acreage of land as his 
grandfathers did before him ; and when his 
sons after his death agreed amongst them- 
selves and with their mother that the small 
possession should be sold, and the proceeds 
apphed to portioning their sisters and buy- 
ing themselves businesses and practices, it 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



was felt that the children of Reuben Mot- 
field were trying to raise themselves in the 
world ; and the wise men of Lovedale 
shook their heads, and prognosticated that 
all sorts of evil must fall on those who were 
not content to remain in that state of life 
in which it had pleased God to place them. 
Probably the only persons in the neigh- 
bourhood who approved of the sale were 
the Misses Wrfforde. Reuben Motfield's 
freehold, situated as it was in the very 
centre of land belonging to the WifFordes, 
had always been to that family as 
sore a trouble as the vineyard of Naboth 
the Jezreelite to Ahab. Over and over 
agam had successive Wrffordes offered a 
potful of money to successive Motfields in 
exchange for their land ; and the conse- 
quence of frequent refusals induced in time 
as keen a feeling of hatred towards the 
Motfields as the dwellers in the Great 
House could be supposed to entertain for 
the family of a mere yeoman. 



THE GREAT HOUSE. 



But they were gentlemen and gentle- 
women, those Wiffordes of Lovedale. No 
doubt, had they set theu^ mmds to it, they 
might have found some means of acquiring 
the coveted land by other modes than that 
of purchase. Many a man has been ruined 
by modern Ahabs for less reason than the 
desire to annex his inheritance ; and as 
Wifforde after Wifforde came into posses- 
sion of the Great House, each with the 
same desire for that Lovedale vineyard, it 
has often seemed to me marvellous that 
not one amongst the number ever was 
tempted to try whether Might could not be 
proved synonymous with Right. 

They did no such thmg, however; and 
when at length the time came for their 
wishes to be fulfilled — when Motfield's 
farm was offered to them by private con- 
tract — the two middle-aged spinsters, co- 
heiresses of Sylvester, the last male Wif- 
forde of Lovedale, behaved generously and 
kindly, as beseemed those on whom had 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



devolved the honour of an honourable 
house. 

They paid the sum asked — and it was 
high — without munnur or abatement ; nay, 
they did more. Through their agent they 
intimated to my grandmother that, under- 
standing she was loth to leave Lovedale, 
and only consented to do so for the advan- 
tage of her children, they were willing, if 
such an arrangement should prove agree- 
able to her, to lease her the cottage already 
mentioned, the garden thereunto apper- 
taming, and a small paddock, free of rent, 
for the remainder of her natural life. 

What the meaning of the last words 
miofht be I have not the remotest idea ; 
but Mr. Everitt, the agent, insisted upon 
that phrase being inserted. Supposing, 
however, my grandmother had lived, say, 
to the age of one hundred and twenty 
years, would she, by reason of that being 
an unnatural term of life, have been in 
danger of ejectment ? Alas ! she did not 



THE GREAT HOUSE. 



live even to the allotted period ; but sup- 
pose slie had done so, what then ? 

My grandmother was not very proud. 
No doubt it was from her side of the house 
those practical ideas were evolved which 
led to the sale of Motfield's farm ; and she 
gratefully accepted the Wiffordes' offer, and 
removed from her old home such of her 
belongings as the cottage and outbuildings 
could well contain. 

The kitchen appliances, the parlour furni- 
ture, enough to fit up three bedrooms com- 
pletely, a pony and cart, a few fowls, 
turkeys, geese, and ducks, her favourite 
pigeons, her best milch cow ; these things 
did my grandmother gather about her. 

An active Phyllis and a stout lad com- 
pleted the menage until my arrival at the 
cottage, which occurred exactly one year 
after Motfield's farm was added to the 
Wifibrde estate. 

There had been a trouble in the Motfield 
family once, and I was the outward and visi- 



10 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

ble sign of that trouble. A daughter of the 
house had been seen by an artist who came 
down to sketch Lovedale, and who intended 
to achieve a reputation out of it. 

I presume he did not sketch Lovedale 
well, for he achieved no reputation, either 
out of that or anything else ; but if his 
painting did not prosper his suit did ; and 
Emily, the youngest of the Motfields, 
married hun agamst the wishes and with- 
out the consent of her parents. 

It was said this marriage killed my 
grandfather. Be this as it may, he never 
held up his head after the news came to 
him. He had loved that youngest gul 
with an exceeding great love, and had been 
proud of her beauty (the Motfields as a 
rule were not handsome). When he was 
out of spuits, or vexed, or cross, no one 
could so soon wm a smile from him as 
Emmy, whose laugh he used to say was 
like silver bells ; who had dimples and 
bright eyes and long brown hau-, and a 



THE GREAT HOUSE. 11 

tall supple figure ; and — who deceived 
him. 

That was the sting. They were a straight- 
forward, unsophisticated race, those yeoman 
ancestors of mine — blunt and even rude they 
might be at times ; but no neighbour could 
say he had ever been misled by one of them. 

Honest towards men, honester, if that 
were possible, towards women, cherishing 
an ideal of what their wives and their 
daughters should be — which, strangely 
enough, their wives and daughters realized 
—the tiduigs that Emmy, not more than 
seventeen, had, while feigning compliance 
with expressed wishes and repeated com- 
mands, met Gerald Trenet secretly, and 
then as secretly left her home and married 
him, fell like a thunderbolt upon that quiet 
household. 

Not a bit of solace was it either to my 
grandfather to consider that his daughter 
had wedded a man who stood higher m the 
social scale than herself. 



12 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Most unaffectedly the Motfields looked 
down on all people who did "nothing but 
write or paint " — on all authors, " play- 
actors," artists. To their intelligence, such 
j)ersons were the vagrants of society ; 
and save that they neither stole poultry 
nor told fortunes, my kinsfolk looked upon 
the whole class as little different from 
gipsies. 

Indeed, it is probable that they con- 
sidered the gipsies the more influential, 
since even moderately sensible folk m Love- 
dale believed the aged crone and the 
picturesque young woman coidd read the 
future ; whilst no one had the smallest 
faith in the power of the " other Bohemians " 
(I mean no offence) either to make their 
own fortunes or to prognosticate the for- 
tunes of others ; and since I have been about 
in the world, I find this Lovedale article of 
faith by no means so uncommon as the 
Mormonite, for example. 

Veiled under a \qyj flimsy interest and 



THE GREA T HO USE. 1 3 

curiosity, both high and low regard men 
who hve by then* brains as earning their 
bread-and-cheese upon a very intangible, 
suspicious, and greatly to be reprehended 
sort of fashion. They are sought after as 
great criminals might be — they are useful 
at London parties and oppressive country 
houses — in small provincial circles they 
serve to point a moral, and give piquancy 
to many tales ; socially they hve m a sort 
of No Man's Land, which the great and the 
lowly alike invade. Sometimes they are 
reported to be earning and spendmg large 
sums of money, the eariung and the spend- 
ing being ahke begrudged by outsiders. 
More frequently they just manage to make 
both ends meet, and then there is general 
condemnation, as though hundi'eds and 
thousands living by theu' hands were able 
to do more. 

But the Lovedale people were sunple m 
theu^ social creed as they were simple in 
theu' habits of life. They beheved in the 



14 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Wiffordes, the nobility, their member — who 
was always a Conservative — their clergyman, 
their minister, their doctor, and themselves. 

Their firm faith in themselves served to 
rivet their faith in other existing insti- 
tutions, and to render their dislike keen to 
strangers, who, so to speak, opening the 
door of the outer world, permitted chill and 
unfamiliar blasts to sweep through that 
happy valley. 

Accursed were all strangers. Doubly 
accursed in the eyes of Lovedale was Gerald 
Trenet, who carried off the rustic belle of 
that remote region, and broke her heart in 
London. 

Yes, that was the story. The man who 
steals a wife from her own home and her 
own kindred, as he did, is not over likely 
to make a good husband ; and so, as I said, 
he broke her heart, and barely a couple of 
years after my birth she . died, leaving me 
— all she had to bequeath — to my grand- 
mother. 



THE GREAT HOUSE. 15 

" I have called her ' Anne,' after you/' 
she wrote. " May she turn out a better 
gu"! than I did 1" And thus, with a sort of 
mark on my forehead, I was sent down to 
the cottage, where I was taken in and 
cared for. 

My childish memory holds the remem- 
brance of no other home than that. 

I have no recollection, mercifully perhaps, 
of any part of my early life which was not 
spent in Lovedale ; no far-away di-eams of 
close rooms, of a smoky city, of harsh 
words, of shifts and poverty and un- 
happiness, anteceding the picture I have 
striven to sketch for you. 

I had a father ; but when spirit meets 
spirit on the eternal shore, I shall only 
recognise him by a very j)Oor miniature he 
left of himself 

I had a mother, with sad, sad eyes, and 
a wealth of ripphng hair, whose face is 
familiar to me through the paintings of a 
now great academician, to whom, when he 



16 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

was but a struggling artist, she sat, thank- 
ful for the bread her beauty enabled her 
thus honestly to buy. No, there was 
nothing of sorrow, no shadow of shame, in 
those quiet happy days of childhood. 

When about five years of age I remember 
that the groom, who each morning went 
down to Lovedale post-office to fetch the 
letters for the Great House, stopped at our 
gate and handed in an epistle with a large 
black seal. 

I was out playing in the garden, and he 
2:ave it to me. Doubtless other letters from 
absent sons and daughters had come to my 
grandmother before this, which I carried in 
to her carefully, but that was the fii'st of 
which I " took notice," as nurses say. 

And I took notice of it for reasons fol- 
lowing : 

Fii'st, my grandmother took me on her 
lap and cried over me. I comprehend now — 
at that voice from the long-ago past — the 
wells of memory burst their bounds ; next. 



THE GREA T HO USE. 1 7 

many letters were written to many people ; 
farther, a dressmaker was sent for, and in 
a couple of days I caught a reflection of 
myself in the glass — a child clothed in gar- 
ments black as the raven's wing. 

When on the Sunday following I went 
to chapel with my grandmother, many 
women kissed me — amongst others, the 
minister's wife — and called me a " poor 
darling." 

I was not allowed to have out my toys 
or nurse my doll, except in a stealthy and 
surreptitious manner. When I escaped 
into the garden I was recalled indoors. 
People — even Phyllis before mentioned, and 
the boy now grown almost to manhood — 
looked at me compassionately, and spoke 
to me more kindly, if that were possible, 
than usual. 

Yes, I was an orphan — not in that very 
pecuhar sense of having one parent still 
living, which constitutes orphanage in 
modern phraseology, but in very deed. 

VOL. I. 2 



18 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

I had neither father nor mother, and 
people pitied me. Why, I could not 
imagine then. Why, understanding fully 
what my poor father was, I cannot com- 
prehend now. 

Wliat would my lot have been, I wonder, 
had I been di-agged up amongst my father's 
surroundings — far absent from flowers and 
fields — never instructed in all the love 
of honesty and self-respect, of truthfulness 
and personal responsibility, which had de- 
scended like a family legend from one to 
another of the Motfields. 

I can fancy my childliood, girlhood, 
womanhood, as each might under such 
auspices have been ; and I feel, spite of the 
commiseration I received — ^tliat commisera- 
tion which the world always gives to 
children when even the most disreputable 
of parents are in God's mercy taken from 
them young — that the Almighty knew 
what was best for us both, when He took 
first my mother from the husband who 



THE GREAT HOUSE. 19 

treated her so imldndly, and secondly, that 
husband before I was of an age to be useful 
to him in any way. What a life that would 
have been ! How I tremble even now — 
knowing what I know of some phases of 
existence — to consider what such Bohemian 
association must have proved ! 

The voyage has not been all smooth, my 
skiff has not sailed into harbour across un- 
troubled waters ; but yet — having just 
caught sight of those seas over which other 
vessels have tossed, of those rapids down 
which many a fair bark has rushed to de- 
struction, of those whirlpools which have 
ingulfed unwary craft, and those awful 
rocks on which ship after ship has gone to 
pieces — I feel the compassion society ex- 
tended to me because Gerald Trenet died 
before his feet had even touched the 
threshold of middle age was utterly thrown 
away. 

Nothmg indeed became my father so 
much in his Hfe as leaving it. He had a 

2—2 



20 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

long time given for repentance, and he re- 
pented. Probably had health been restored 
to him, both illness and remorse would 
have become mere memories ; but it was 
not to be. 

He died in his thirtieth year, and I and 
a few very infierior pamtings were all that 
remained on earth to tell that Gerald Trenet 
ever had a being. 

But after all, though I have no memory 
of him, lie was my father ; and when I, 
looking at some of those pictures that now 
hang on the walls of the room in which I 
write, think of his uncontrolled youth, of 
his wild life, which could scarce have held 
an untroubled memory in it — of his lonely 
sick bed and his bitter repentance — I trust 
with a trust almost amounting to faitli, that 
if I am ever permitted to enter through 
the strait gate, I shall find that God has 
likewise been veiy merciful to him a sinner. 




CHAPTER II. 

MY WORLDLY PROSPECTS. 

OME time before his death my 
father received a legacy. Speaking 
correctly, indeed, that legacy was 
the cause of his death. 

A distant relative, of whose very exis- 
tence he was scarcely aware, dying intestate 
and without any nearer hen-, the whole of 
her modest patrimony, amountmg to some- 
thing like twelve hundred pounds in money, 
together with a cottage, a quantity of old- 
fashioned furniture, a silver tea-service, 
various articles of ancient china, a dog and 
cat, and a couple of acres of meadow-land, 
came unexpectedly into his possession, and 
almost from the hour it did so his fate was 
sealed. 



■22 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

To a man who has never had five shillings 
before him in the world, whose life has 
been a succession of perpetual shifts, twelve 
hundred pounds seemed an illimitable sum 
of money, and naturally he set to work 
spending it at the rate of somewhere about 
a couple of thousand a year. 

The cottage being a picturesque place, 
covered with wisteria and climbing roses, 
situated in the midst of soft English scenery, 
struck his artistic fancy, and so he kept it, 
and the furniture, and the plate, and the 
meadow-land, and the dog and cat, and old 
servant intact, determining that some day 
he would take three months' holiday, and 
paint landscapes which the public should 
appreciate at last and purchase. He now 
possessed the only things he had previously 
needed to insure success — money and leisure 
— that was the way he put the state of the 
case to one of his friends — and he intended 
to make a name and a fortune. 

Whether on his deathbed it ever occurred 



AfV WORLDL V PROSPECTS. 23 

to hiin that he had also lacked genius and 
industry, I cannot tell ; certainly while he 
was strong and well, he believed in hmiself 
with a faith which almost seemed deserving 
of a better return. The self he set wp as a 
god and worshipped failed him utterly. It 
never did anything worth talking about, 
and it did a great many things that were 
best not spoken of. 

His was a lost, wasted, unprofitable, sad 
life, so far as man ever knew. Perhaps 
there may have been another side to the 
picture which man never saw ; but in a 
purely worldly point of view, his whole 
existence was a failure. What he might 
have done with money and leisure in the 
way of landscape painting, it is impossible 
to determine, although it seems to me easy 
to guess ; but as he never made but one 
slight sketch from the day he came into 
possession of his small fortune, the chances 
he gave himself of achievmg fame were 
small indeed. 



24 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Not in rambles through the woods, not 
in catching the effects of sunrise on the 
distant hills, not m reproducing on canvas 
the river which came brawling under the 
grey old bridge and pursued its way be- 
tween banks where grew alder-trees, and 
brambles, and ferns, and wild flowers, did 
he spend the holiday he had vaguely pur- 
posed to devote to art. 

He spent it in dying. There lay the 
sweet home landscape before him, but liis 
hand was too feeble even to attempt to re- 
produce it. Other men might make fame 
and fortune out of it, but for him the dream 
was over. He had come away from boon 
companions, away from the rattle of 
dice and clickmg of billiard balls and 
shuffling of cards, away from the glaring 
gaslights and the wicked town, to die ; and 
he did it, and they buried him under the 
shadow of the ivy-covered church-tower in 
the stillness of a summer evening. 

He expressed no wish to see me before 
he went ; indeed, the first intimation my 



MY WORLDLY PROSPECTS. 25 

grandmother had of his illness was con- 
tained in that letter to which allusion has 
already been made as announcing his 
death. 

Probably he felt, as he stated in a long 
narrative which he directed to be forwarded 
to Lovedale after his decease, that the sight 
of me would recall memories too painful for 
endurance ; but it is also likely that he 
dreaded still more an interview with my 
grandmother, whose heart he had bereaved. 

What remained of his fortune he left to 
her in trust for me. The cottage was to be 
let, and the income derived from it paid 
over half-yearly to " the said Anne Motfield, 
for the maintenance of my beloved daughter 
Anne Trenet." The money — three hundred 
pounds — was to be placed in the Funds, 
and the interest to accumulate till I reached 
my twelfth year, when, if my grandmother 
thought fit, a certam portion might be an- 
nually withdrawn, in order to permit of my 
being properly educated. The silver, se- 
ciu-ely packed, came down to Lovedale like- 



26 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

wise in trust for mej as did the paintings to 
which I have referred. 

Altogether I was regarded by the whole 
Motfield family as a lucky little child ; and 
from the day when, dressed all in black, I 
accompanied my grandmother on a visit to 
one of her sons, who dispensed as an apothe- 
cary in the nearest large seaport town, I 
felt an access of civility, on the part of all 
my uncles and aunts, for which, at my 
then tender age, I was totally at a loss to 
accoimt. 

I had not grown any less troublesome, or 
tiresome, or cross, or sulky than on the 
occasion of previous visits, but I was 
very rarely reminded of my shortcomings. 
Farther, my grandmother was not re- 
proached for " spoiling me" and for " in- 
dulging me as she had never done any of 
her own children." 

It was not imputed to me as sin that 
my hair would fall out of curl and my 
bonnet get awry, neither did I hear any 



MY WORLDLY PROSPECTS. 27 

fault-finding on the subject of my new 
clothes. 

Altogether we had a good time, and I 
know now that my father's death and 
legacy caused rather a pleasmg excitement 
in the Motfield family. Hitherto they had 
looked upon me as a troublesome, and likely 
to be expensive, interloper — the child, not 
of a struggling, honest, hardworking man, 
but of a " ne'er-do-weel," whose propensities 
to Bohemianism, or to strange ways of life, 
as they expressed it, I had no doubt in- 
herited ; but the three hundred pounds, 
and the cottage, and the silver, caused 
them to regard me with a certam amount 
of respect, though not indeed as quite a 
desirable addition to the family ; and as 
my grandmother presented her daughters 
and daughters-in-law with rather expensive 
mourning, I can perfectly understand the 
diversion in my favour which was so per- 
ceptible that I remarked at the apothecary's 
tea-table, in the presence of strangers, evi- 



28 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

dently labouring under the impression that 
I was saying something original — 

"Grandma,isn't Aunt Jane kind?" Where- 
upon a pleased silence fell upon the guests, 
while Aunt Jane, who had just offered me, 
contrary to custom, a piece of cake, looked 
delighted, inspired by which appreciation 
I took up my parable and proceeded — 

" Last time we were here she wasn't 
kind ; she slapped me, and called me a 
brat." 

After that I have a vivid memory 
of being carried from the room and 
slapped again ; not, however, by Aunt 
Jane, but by my grandmother, who had 
not so light a hand in administering 
punishment as in making pastry. 

All excitement, however, must sooner or 
later pass away, and the flutter and bustle 
which ensued after my father's death gra- 
dually subsided. Although the minister's 
wife still spoke kindly to me when we 
came out of Lovedale chapel (my grand- 



M V WORLDL V PRO SPEC TS. 29 

mother was a Dissenter), and the stately 
housekeeper from the Great House occa- 
sionally patted me on the shoulder if we 
overtook her on her way to church, the 
memory of my orphan condition was gra- 
dually forgotten, and by the time my black 
frocks were worn out, and replaced by more 
cheerful garments, the fact of my ever 
having had a father or a mother seemed 
obliterated from the recollection of our 
acquaintances, who rarely called me by my 
proper name, but talked of me as Anne 
Motfield, or old Mrs. Motfield's little 
grandchild. 

The years came and the years went — years 
peaceful and happy. I was allowed to run 
about by myself — much more than children 
usually are, I fancy — and I used to sit on 
the big boulders in the stream that ran 
down from the Great House estate into the 
quiet valley below, telling myself fairy 
tales by the hour together, or singing and 
crooning old-world ditties while I made 



30 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

wreaths and crowns out of the wild flowers 
I had gathered in the woods. 

Few were the story-books our humble 
home boasted, but I had read them over 
and over again. From the cottage where 
my father died had come, with the silver, 
some boxes that, besides a few old-fashioned 
brocade dresses, contained sundry volumes, 
that I devoured by day and dreamt of by 
night. 

Was ever anything more wonderful and 
more delightful than the tales those old 
books contained — tales of wild romance — 
of enchantments — of supernatural appear- 
ances — of wizards — of lovely princesses — 
of cruel stepmothers — of ladies whose 
beauty was beyond compare — of knights 
sans peur et sans reproche ? 

There are no such books nowadays — 
there are no books (of prose) that appeal 
to the imagination at all ; and perhaps that 
may be the reason the nineteenth century 
young people are growing up such an un- 
imaginative and practical race. 



MY WORLDLY PROSPECTS. 31 



What every one writes at the present 
moment, or at least tries to wiite, is a 
reflex of actual life — the life we have to 
live, whether we like it or not. Authors 
try to reproduce a faithful transcript of the 
sayings and doings of this weary work-a-day 
world, through which walk men and women 
with sad anxious faces — where virtue does 
not necessarilymean success — where wicked- 
ness is often triumphant over innocence — 
where the guilty thrive and flourish — where 
beauty is oftentimes a fatal possession — 
where genius and courage are beaten 
ignominiously by money and chicanery — 
and where the battle is always to the 
strong, and the race to the swift. 

It is the world as it has been since 
Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden that 
story-tellers now dehght in portraying. 

For me, give my fancy that garden, with 
all manner of exquisite fruit and lovely 
flowers, to wander through, or even a pre- 
Adamite literature, which shall resemble in 
some sort the vague deHcious reading I 



32 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

drank-in, feeling it indeed possessed all the 
sweetness of stolen waters. 

My grandmother did not approve of 
much reading on the part of young or old. 
For a girl to be sufficiently educated 
meant, to her understanding, that the 
said girl could read without having to 
" try back " — that she could spell in three 
syllables — that she coidd do her sampler 
and her seam — that she could add up a 
column. If, added to this, she had a 
sufficiently good ear for music to catch 
up a tune and sing an old-world ballad, 
Mrs. Motfield considered her accom- 
plished. 

Perhaps it was for this reason she rather 
deferred to her son Isaac's wife, the Aunt 
Jane already mentioned, who, besides 
having a wonderful gift for housekeeping, 
was wont to sing by special request in the 
evenings, " Cherry Ripe," " The Young 
Troubadour," "Annie Laurie," and other 
ditties of the same class and period, which 



MY WORLDLY PROSPECTS. 33 

were mucli admired, and occasionally drew 
tears from my grandmother's eyes. 

Mrs. Isaac Motfield's minstrelsy never 
caused me to weep ; but no doubt this 
hardness arose from the amount of 
original sin I am now aware that lady 
believed my little soul contained. 

It was darkly rumoured that Mrs. Isaac, 
if business went well, intended her talent 
to be perpetuated in the persons of her 
children. When they came to suitable 
years they were to be taught to play the 
piano, and I believe some overtures were 
made for the rickety spinet that had come 
with the books, the brocades, and the 
legacy. 

As the spinet fortunately, however, hap- 
pened to be mine, and I was not of an age 
to be a party to its sale, the negotiation 
fell through, and the Misses Motfield, at a 
later period of this story, learnt the mys- 
teries of Cramer's exercises on a five-and- 
a-half octave instrument, manufactured by 

VOL. I. 3 



34 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Clementi, I should tMnk at about the tune 
of the First Captivity. 

Not that it is for me to cast stones at 
that ancient piano, since I picked out my 
notes upon a still more venerable spinet. 

It was impossible to keep me from that 
heirloom. Had there been a key to it, I 
should have been deprived of my greatest 
source of amusement on wet days ; but 
providentially the key was lost, so I 
wandered over the notes — one-half of which 
were dumb — when Mrs. Motfield was busy 
or absent, to my heart's content. 

One day — one memorable day — there 
came a person who was in the habit of 
seeing to the welfare of our kitchen clock ; 
a huge thing in a case, with an absurd 
moon rismg above its dial. There was no 
lock to it either, and as I was in the habit 
of stopping it when I did not wish to be 
sent to bed at abnormally early hours, and 
of putting it forward when I desired the 
speedy departure of obnoxious visitors, the 



MY WORLDLY PROSPECTS. 35 

clock frequently required Mr. Lambton's 
services. 

Not that Mr. Lambton minded how 
often he called. He liked the snug kit- 
chen — the little table covered with a snowy 
cloth — the muffins made by my grand- 
mother's own hands — the sweet fresh 
butter — the newly-laid eggs — the dainty 
rasher — the strong cup of tea — which were 
duly prepared for his delectation. 

On the day in question, however, his 
arrival, was unexpected, and as Mary 
chanced to be scrubbing out the kitchen, 
I took him into the parlour till such time 
as the tiles should be all clean and ruddy 
from the administration of spring water, 
and a final polishmg of red brick. 

There, anxious to do the honours, I 
showed him my father's paintings, which 
he said were " uncommon fine ;" the bro- 
cades, that he pronounced to be as " grand 
as anything worn by the Misses Wifibrde 
theirselves ;" the books with plates, his 

3—2 



36 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

judgment of which disappointed me, as he 
inclined to the opinion they wanted a " dash 
of colour/' whilst I liked the soft shading 
of black into grey, as I liked the gloom of 
the woods in bright summer weather. 
Finally he espied the spinet, whereof, he 
informed me, he had heard. 

" An ancient article ; been made a few 
years." 

"Yes," I said, "it is a great deal older 
than I am." 

"Are you sure of that, miss?" he asked, 
evidently thinking to make fun of me ; but 
I only replied — 

" Yes, I am, and I would give anytliing 
to make it talk all over." 

" Talk all over," he repeated ; " whatever 
does the little lady mean ?" 

" Why, listen," I answered, and I ran 
my childish fingers over the keys ; " one 
half of them don't speak, they have not 
a word to say." 

" Miss," he said, after a moment's silence. 



MV WORLDL V PROSPECTS. 37 

" if a person could put that to rights for 
you, what would you do for him T 

" Give him all I have in the world," I 
answered ; and straight way I rushed off 
to my own little room, whence I returned 
with a halfpenny money-box, the top of 
which I tore off as I came down the narrow 
stairs. 

" Look," I cried, pouring out the con- 
tents ; "this is all I have now, but 
grandmamma gives me half-a-crown on 
Christmas-days and a shilling at Easter, 
and I shall have five shillings when I am 
eight years of age, if I try to be a good 
child till then ; and, oh, make my spinet 
talk, and I will be good, and you shall 
have everything I get." 

Then Mr. Lambton, though he was a 
very commonplace sort of individual, looked 
at me half comically and half reproach- 

foUy. 

" Child," he said, " I would not take the 
money of an orphan like you, if you counted 



38 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

it out before me in golden guineas ; but I 
will put the wires to rights for you if you 
will sing me a song." 

" I cannot sing," I answered, blushing 
scarlet, getting hot to my ears in a very 
agony of shame. " Grandma says I cannot, 
and so does Aunt Jane, and they do not 
like me to try." 

" Sing for me," he replied ; " Mary says 
you can lUt like a lark." 

" Come down the garden, then," I 
agreed ; and so I let him out of the house, 
along a walk bordered by thyme and 
marjoram, amongst which our bees kept 
busy holiday, across the paddock to a point 
where commenced a steep descent, planted 
with fir-trees, at the bottom of which the 
river Love in its summer idleness crept 
lazily over the stones. 

Then, with my face half averted, I began, 
" The Banks of Allan Water." 

Where I had learned the baUad I cannot 
tell. I only know that before the fii'st 



MY WORLDLY PROSPECTS. 39 

verse was half over I had forgotten every- 
tliing but my song, and never remember 
anything else till, that song finished, I 
stood in a surprised silence once more in 
the familiar world. 

Mr. Lambton never spoke a word, and I 
turned to look at him. 

" Miss Annie," he began, " Mary was quite 
right ; but still I do not think it is a good 
thing for a baby like you to be able to stag 
like that." 

Whereupon we went back to the house 
together — across the paddock, up the path 
where the bees were still busy, and into 
the kitchen, now wearing its usual air of 
comfort — both slightly dispirited. 

" Never more," I decided, " never for 
ever should any human being ever hear me 
try to sing again." 

For I felt just as if I had committed 
some sin. 



CHAPTEE III. 




NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 

HAT the Motfields ever met in 

solemn conclave to discuss my 

demerits is unlikely ; but that 

they arrived at a unanimous opinion on 

the subject is lamentably true. 

They decided as with one voice that I 
was "stupid" and "odd." Even my 
grandmother, my dear grandmother who 
loved me, once in a moment of unguarded 
confidence expressed her regret that I was 
not more like other guls ; and I felt 
abashed at my shortcomings. 

Subsequent experience has rendered me 
sceptical as to whether bemg like other 
girls would materially have benefited my 
position. However, she was sorry that I 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 41 

did not resemble the race ; and I was 
sorry none the less perhaps because I 
could think of no means of remedying the 
evil. 

Unhappily, I was myself; and every 
attempt I made to resemble other people 
only made the difierence more apparent. 
Alas, in those days it was very true indeed 
that I was Annie Trenet, and nobody else. 
Just a child with strong affections, which 
rarely, however, made themselves demon- 
strative ; a child unblessed by Nature with 
good looks or the capability of saying clever 
things ; a child who as the years went on 
grew painfully shy, whose artificial life was 
that spent amongst grown-up men and 
women and little guis and boys, but whose 
real life was passed in holdmg silent but 
entrancing interviews with fairies and prin- 
cesses, with vague kings and queens, with 
heroines who were miracles of beauty, and 
heroes like unto notlimg since the creation 
of the world. 



42 - HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Yes" — as my Aunt Jane said — " it was 
a very good thing indeed I had been pro- 
vided for, since I never could have provided 
for myself" Doubtless the good lady was 
right ; at all events, no circumstance in my 
career has ever caused a difference in her 
opinion. 

" Some people," she said to me recently, 
" are born with silver spoons in their 
mouth ;" and although I could not quite 
understand her grammar, I comprehended 
that three hundi'ed pounds, with the cottage 
afore honourably mentioned, had, in her 
opinion, provided a very enormous ladle 
for me. 

The difficulty in my life as I grew older 
was, that I could not talk, probably from 
an intuitive knowledge that if I did talk, I 
should not be understood. 

Dearly I loved my grandmother ; but I 
was well aware she would have regarded 
the conversations I held with various imagi- 
nary personages as the wildest nonsense — 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 43 

which no doubt they were ; but then it 
is diflS.cult — for me, at least — to enter into 
the ins and outs of a life the conversations 
in wliich are all sense. 

I was not in the least like my aunt's 
children. They could play Di tanti palpiti 
with all its repeats without a great deal of 
stumbling before a mixed company, and I 
could not play anything excepting to my- 
self. 

To be sure, I was self-taught. I played 
the old psalm-tunes I heard at chapel, and 
picked out the songs wherewith Mary pro- 
pitiated our solitary cow. Farther, when 
Tom whistled, most likely for want of 
thought — since no cross-questioning of mme 
ever ehcited an original idea from that 
taciturn youth — I appropriated the au- for 
myself ; but what did all that prove ? Sim- 
ply that I was odd. It was all very well 
to play from ear, but if you could not 
read from book, what should an ear 
profit % 



44 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

So said my cousins' music-mistress ; so 
said my aunt. 

And besides, I could not play, except 
just in a mooning sort of fashion to myself ; 
and when I sat down to the Clementi five- 
and-a-half, I had no idea of setting my 
dress out to advantage on the rickety stool, 
as was the habit of Jemima Jane. 

I liked best to get into the corner with 
a book, and strive to close my ears to 
Jemima's performances. Perhaps that was 
ascribed to envy ; and — well, possibly I 
did sometimes in those days wish to be 
more like my cousin and less like my- 
self 

Only, surely that was appreciation and 
not envy. One thing I can certainly state, 
however — I do not envy Jemima Jane 
now. 

In the town where Uncle Isaac resided — 
that seaport to which the Misses Wifforde 
annually repaired for change of air and 
scene — there were attractions for me quite 



NE J I 'S FROM THE ORE A T HO USE. 45 

independent of my cousins' society. First 
of all, there was the sea, which I loved 
then as I love it now. The little room at 
the top of the house which I shared with a 
couple of the younger children overlooked 
the shore ; and night after night, when they 
were fast asleep, I used to get up and gaze 
with what I comprehend to have been a pas- 
sionate awe and reverence at the waste of 
waters, sometimes reflecting back the moon- 
light, at others lying black and sullen under 
the midnight sky. 

Next, there were plenty of people in the 
streets, and what seemed, in comparison with 
my lonely home, crowds innumerable— -ladies 
in gay dresses, gentlemen on prancing horses, 
soldiers in then* uniforms — it was a garrison 
town — sailors in their round shiny hats and 
blue guernseys, fishermen in sou'-westers, 
children, tradespeople, great shops with 
plate-glass windows, boats, beggars, car- 
riages — altogether a wonderful change and 
excitement for me, for whom, however. 



46 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Fairport held two stronger attractions than 
any I have yet mentioned — its ancient 
church and the organ that church contained. 
I should not like to be buried in the 
piece of consecrated ground which lies 
round and about the old church dedicated 
to St. Stephen ; for the graves are so many 
and the space so small that the earth is like 
billows, and has by this time raised itself 
up to the muUioned frames of the painted 
glass windows. As a child, that burying 
ground always gave me an idea of the dead 
moving about in their last resting-place. It 
looked to me as though they tossed from side 
to side. Now bemg less romantic or imagi- 
native, I object to the place on other 
grounds ; and am glad to remember that in 
all human probability, when my time comes, 
I shall be followed by a few who love me 
and by some others to whom God has en- 
abled me to do a kindness, to a little 
churchyard in a hamlet I wot of, where 
the morning sun shines brightly on a great 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 47 

square tomb, which has many names in- 
scribed and many tributes engraved upon 
it, to the memories of men and women who 
tried to do their duty in that sphere of life 
in which Providence had placed them. 

Spite of its graveyard, however, I re- 
member St. Stephen's with an abiding affec- 
tion. Keligion never seemed to me the 
same thing in our whitewashed conventicle 
at Lovedale as it did within the grey walls 
of the church at Fairport. No doubt the 
instruction imparted was equally good ; but 
the sentiments I derived were different. 
Keligion at Lovedale was a duty — not 
altogether disagreeable perhaj)s, but still a 
duty ; religion at St. Stephen's was to me, 
at all events, a romance. 

People who have gone to church all their 
lives long, who have never in their childish 
days been called upon to eat that strong 
meat which, amongst even the most liberal 
of Dissenters, is provided impartially for 
the sucking babe, the middle-aged man, and 



48 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

the octogenarian tottering to the grave, 
cannot form the faintest idea how the ul- 
terior of an old church, and the church- 
service itself, impresses any young person 
with imaginative tendencies, who has been 
weaned on the sterner and more forbidding 
diet of ordinary nonconformist worship. 

Monuments with a story to them instead 
of our bare walls, only relieved by one bald 
tablet, white marble edged with black, 
setting forth the vktues of a certain Joshua 
Sandells, who had largely contributed 
towards the erection and support of our 
barn-like edifice ; monuments high as the 
roofs of the side-aisles ; monuments to for- 
gotten grandees ; monuments that portrayed 
kneeling lords and ladies ; monuments rich 
in death's-heads, hour-glasses, scythes, and 
skulls. 

More especially there was one I remem- 
ber — one which I shall remember to my 
dying day. It was right above the pew we 
occupied (my aunt was a Churchwoman, 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 49 

and had, of course, carried Uncle Isaac 
with her), and the inscription on it ran as 
follows : — 

Sacred to the Memory of Captain Edward Artliorp, 
Lieutenant James Godfrey, Henry George Rogers and 
Frederick Sunderland, Midshipmen of the ship Cardigaii, 
which foundered on the Gray Rock, January 1st, 1771. 

" The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many 
waters." 

How often I have read and re-read that 
inscription, I could not repeat ; how vividly 
the figures of men praying, with drooping 
flags and broken spars and the ribs of a 
shipwrecked vessel in the background 
come back to me, I might never hope to 
telL 

As easily might I strive to explain the 
feeling of utter desolation (as regarded man) 
with which that monument inspu^ed me ; as 
easily could I make my readers understand 
how the waves dashing in upon the sea- 
shore seem even now to bring it before my 
mind's eye — how, when I hear the choristers 
chant — 

VOL. L 4 



50 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" They that go down to the sea in ships, 
that do business in great waters ; 

" These see the works of the Lord, and 
His wonders in the deep. 

" For He commandeth, and raiseth the 
stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves 
thereof. 

*' They mount up to the heaven, they go 
down again to the depths ; then* soul is 
melted because of trouble." 
— I see a wild sea-shore, and the Gray 
Rock where that tragedy happened, lashed 
by waves white and cruel ; I see those men 
struggling in a last fight for life ; I see 
them buffeting the billows, chnging to 
spars, trying to seize the rope which always 
fell short, striving to keep afloat till suc- 
cour came, passing through a thousand 
years of torture to add a few years to 
existence. 

To which succeeds a great calm. I am 
in an old, old church, dimly lighted. The 
organ swells, and my heart throbs, and 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 61 

dowii the aisles there floats, chanted by 
the choristers, " A thousand years are but 
as a day in His sight." 

To the left that monument ; a few hun- 
dred yards more to the left the grey, deso- 
late, hungry sea ; my own Httle life opening 
vaguely before me. That is all ; and yet 
perhaps enough to show my relations were 
right, and I not quite like other girls of my 
age and station. 

More than once, when I was staying at 
Fairport, the Misses Wifforde were there 
likewise, taking in their grand manner 
change of air too. Each afternoon they 
were wont to drive up and down the parade, 
rarely, however, looking at the passers-by, 
but keeping their eyes fastened on the 
coachman's back-buttons in a fashion which 
filled me with a great awe and reverence. 

Of course, I admired the manner of our 
ladies when at home in Lovedale ; but it 
impressed me far more when, in the midst 
of the world and its excitements, they 

4—2 



52 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

were still sufficiently mistresses of them- 
selves to consider nothing so worthy of 
admiration as the family crest. It was not 
frequently, however, that I had opportuni- 
ties of contemplating this calm indifference 
to objects external to the house of Wif- 
forde ; for it was always the very height of 
the Fau-port season when they went thithei- 
for the benefit of the sea-air ; and in the 
height of the season every man and woman in 
the town either let his or her house or took 
in lodgers ; and as my uncle was no exception 
to the general rule, even my small person 
usually proved at that period an article of 
furniture too much. 

The Misses Wifforde had a house of 
theu- own on the cliff — a dull-looking abode 
with a heavy balcony and a great expanse 
of hall-door, only relieved by a handle as 
large as a turnip, and an immense knocker, 
the design of which was a wreath of oak- 
leaves and a lion's head. 

That dwelling was the quintessence of 
ponderous and long-estabHshed respecta- 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 53 

bility ; and I shall never forget the amaze- 
ment I felt when one day I distinctly heard 
the notes of " Rory O'More " whistled in 
its balcony. 

I could not believe my ears. I looked 
up ; I could not believe my eyes : there 
stood a young lady, not more than in her 
first teens, perhaps less still — a young lady 
leaning over the balcony, looking far sea- 
ward, and whistling — ay, as well as our 
Tom. 

It was very rude, but I could not help 
stopping to listen. 

" He was bold as the hawk, 
She was soft as the dawn," 

the young lady proceeded, breakmg off into 
song ; but apparently whisthng was more 
her forte, and she whistled on, swinging 
her foot up and down against the konwork 
in time to the tune. 

Suddenly she caught sight of me, and I 
was made aware of the fact by this sen- 
tence — 



54 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Little girl, if you stand there another 
second, I will drop a bonbon into your open 
mouth." And she pelted one at me; 
whereupon I ran off as fast as I could, and 
stayed as much indoors as possible for a 
few days, lest the fact of my boldness 
coming to Miss Wifforde's ears, she should 
send a detachment of soldiers to my uncle's 
house, and have me taken off to prison. 

From the dormer window of that attic 
chamber to which, m the season, Mrs. Isaac 
Motfield's younger children were consigned, 
I subsequently beheld the young lady who 
could whistle driving along the parade with 
the Misses Wifforde. She was clad in spot- 
less muslin ; she had on a black-silk pele- 
rine — pelerines obtained at that time, as 
they have again, under a different name, 
within the last three years — and a quiet 
straw bonnet, trimmed with a cool-looking 
blue-and-white ribbon. Hats had been 
previously, and have been since, but they 
were not in those days ; not a bit quiet 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 55 

was Missy, and I coiild perceive that the 
calm atmosphere which usually pervaded 
" the ladies " was disturbed. Ihoy could 
not prevent her turning round and laughing 
at everything which struck her as ludicrous. 
Miss Wifforde frequently tapped her with 
the point of her parasol, while Miss Laura 
spoke to the offender, as it appeared, more 
in sorrow than in anger. That any one 
could venture to laugh in the presence of 
"our ladies" seemed to me nothing short 
of miraculous ; that any one could laugh 
twice after being rebuked once was a still 
greater miracle ; and yet I saw that girl do 
it — I saw her almost scream with laughter 
as she returned, and it appeared to me she 
was making merry at Miss Wifforde s ex- 
pense. 

Early next mornmg I awoke with the 
sun shining full on my face ; and long be- 
fore any one else had even, I believe, 
turned in bed, the question was settled to 
my own satisfaction. The poor young lady 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



must be out of her mind ; and oh, what a 
trouble for the Misses Wifforde ! 

Somehow, from that time there seemed 
to me a ladder — a long one, it is true, but 
still a ladder — set uj), by which my thoughts 
might travel to and peep in at the windows 
of the Great House, the inmates of which 
were intimate with sorrow. 

In this idea I was entirely mistaken ; at 
least, if the Misses Wifforde had sorrows, 
they were in no way connected with the 
young lady of the balcony ; but it served 
the purpose of fostering a vague sort of 
human sjrtnpathy towards " our ladies," 
who had always seemed to my previous 
imaginings set as far from me as the east 
is from the west. 

Afterwards I knew more about Miss, 
and also a young gentleman I had once 
beheld driving down to Lovedale church in 
the Wifforde carriage. On one bright 
April afternoon Miss Hunter, my ladies' 
lady, asked shelter from us till a shower 
should be over. 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 57 

The dependents at the Great House had 
ever been friendly towards our cottage, but 
not familiar ; and I could perceive that 
my grandmother regarded the request and 
the visitor with distinguished considera- 
tion. 

Hospitahty was j)rofFered, and Miss 
Hunter induced first to taste a glass of 
cowslip wine, which she honoured with her 
approval, and subsequently to consent to 
take off her bonnet — it was an immense 
black erection — and remain for tea. 

Over that meal she unbent consider- 
ably ; and whilst I, having duly put back 
my chair, and betaken myself and a book 
to the window-sill, was supposed to be 
deaf, as I had certainly been dumb. Miss 
Hunter informed my grandmother that the 
Misses Wrfforde, after long consideration, 
were agreed as to the advisability of 
adopting an heir, 

" They want to do justice to all parties," 
the old lady went on ; " and as their only 
near relations are equally close, they have 



68 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

decided to adopt Master Sylvester for the 
next heii', and that he shall marry Miss 
EHzabeth." 

It was just like arranging a royal mar- 
riage ; and my grandmother expressed her 
surprise no more than she might have done 
had Miss Hunter announced that one of. 
the blood-royal was about to contract an 
alliance with the Prmcess AmeHa Sophia 
Agatha CaroHne of Popohnasklinski. 

" You know/' proceeded Miss Hunter, 
"they are both of them sort of distant 
cousins to the family ; and the family has 
always kept up its relationships. Mr. 
Sylvester is the grandson of a cousin of my 
ladies' father ; and Miss Elizabeth's father 
was son to that Mr. Cleeves who was at 
one time so much at the Great House in 
the late Squire's tune. You must surely 
remember him, Mrs. Motfield — a handsome, 
spirited gentleman ; they said he was the 
best seat on horseback in the county ; but 
he was killed by a fall while hunting, for 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 59 

all that. I believe he and Miss Wifforde 
would have married ; but the Squire set 
his face against it ; for he wanted her to 
accept Captain Ralph Wifforde, who after- 
wards died m India. Dear me ! there is 
hardly a lady or gentleman who used to come 
to the place living now. To think that of 
all the Wiffordes there is not one of the 
name left excepting my ladies ! The house, 
as a rule, is quiet as the grave. My ladies 
cannot bear either to go out visitmg or to 
receive visitors. I do not know how it will 
be when Mr. Sylvester comes to live with 
them ; for it is not likely a young gentle- 
man could be content with only their so- 
ciety." 

"And when is the marriaofe to take 
place ?" asked my grandmother, as Miss 
Hunter at length gave her a chance of 
edging in a question. 

" Oh, bless your heart ! not for years. 
Miss Elizabeth is little more than a child ; 
and Mr. Sylvester is, after a manner of 



60 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

speaking, still just a boy ; but I believe it 
is all as good as settled that Mr. Sylvester 
is to be the heir, and to take the name of 
WifForde, and to marry Miss Elizabeth 
when she is eighteen." 

" What sort of a young lady is Miss 
Elizabeth — is she handsome T 

" Not in my idea," replied Miss Hunter, 
who was a tall woman, and held herself 
very erect, and had a Roman nose and 
high forehead and light-blue eyes, and hair 
that, despite her years, refused to turn 
white ; " not in my idea. Indeed, what 
my ladies can see in her passes my under- 
standing. She is a pert little creature, with 
more knowledge of the world and its ways 
already than either of them will ever have 
in their lives. She turns the place upside 
down when she is in it. She never was at 
the Great House but once ; and every 
servant was happy the mornmg she left. 
She has not a trace of the Wiffordes about 
her ; but she can wind my ladies round her 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. 61 

finger. They say she is wonderfully clever ; 
but I am sure I do not know in what way. 
She could not hem a handkerchief if it 
were to save her life ; and she told me once 
she thought a square of Axminster carpet 
would look just as pretty on the footstools 
as those beautiful groups of flowers that 
Miss Wiiforde worked with her own hands. 
She calls my ladies dear old things — yes, 
to their faces ; and she will go into the 
stables, Mr. Ackworth tells me, and walk 
round the very hoofs of the horses m a 
way that frightens even the grooms. 

" Mr. Ackworth entreated her one day 
to be more careful lest she should get a 
kick from one of the horses ; but she only 
broke out laughmg, and said in her scorn- 
ful way — - 

" ' Do you call those things horses ? Ah, 
you should go into the stables at Dacre 
Park, and see the beauties my uncle has ! 
Horses ! why, these creatures could not kick 
if they tried ! If they ever knew how, 



62 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

they must have forgotten the way, I should 
think, about a hundred years ago.' " 

" I wonder at ladies like the Miss Wif- 
fordes enduring such doings," said my grand- 
mother, indignantly. 

" We all wonder they have Miss Eliza- 
beth staying with them," was the reply ; 
" but I do not think the person lives who 
could prevent her doing precisely what she 
Hkes. Mr. Ackworth says he cannot ac- 
count for the Miss Wiffordes' mfatuation 
except on the ground of witchcraft. She 
goes about the garden whistling " 

" Yes, I heard her once at Fau'port," I 
eagerly interrupted, letting my book fall in 
my excitement ; and had I been a witch, I 
could not have produced a greater effect. 

It was evident that Miss Hunter at all 
events had forgotten the fact of my pre- 
sence, and her startled and angry look 
frightened me as much as my speech had 
alarmed her. 

" Good gracious !" she said, turning to 



NEWS FROM THE GREAT HOUSE. G3 

my grandmother, " I never thought of the 
child ; and here have I been talking to you 
as, I am sure, I would not have talked to 
any other person outside of the Great 
House. Come here, Httle gii'l ;" and she 
planted me before her, fixing me with her 
light blue eyes. " I hope you have learned 
your Catechism, and the Ten Command- 
ments, and the Lord's Prayer T 

" Yes, ma'am," I answered. 

" Then you know what will become of 
children who go and repeat things it was 
never intended their ears should have 
heard ?" - 

" Yes, ma'am." 

" And you will try to be a good child, 
and forget all your grandmother and I have 
been talking about V 

Once again I should have answered, 
"Yes, ma'am," but at this juncture my 
grandmother came to the rescue. 

" You may trust Annie," she said. " I 
have never known her carry a story in or 



64 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



out of any house," Whereupon, moved by 
sheer gratitude, I began to cry. 

Almost immediately afterwards Miss 
Hunter, declaring she must go, resumed 
her bonnet, put on her shawl, lifted the 
skirt of her thick black silk dress till I 
could see the topmost tuck in her snowy 
petticoat, and departed, leaving me mider 
the impression that I had, in some dreadful 
and mysterious manner, been put upon my 
trial. 





CHAPTER IV. 

QXJIET TALK. 

OW the news wliich the facile 
tongue of my lady's lady had so 
glibly communicated affected the 
conversation of us humble folk, only people 
who lead or have led a monotonous life like 
ours will be able to understand. In the 
winter's evenings, when, our early tea 
over, my grandmother sat knitting stock- 
ings, while I toiled along the dreary ex- 
panse of a long seam, we talked much 
about the adopted heir and his wife that 
was to be. 

The whole affau* had by this time been 
positively settled, and everybody in the 
county knew that at Christmas Mr. Syl- 
vester was coming to take up his residence 

VOL. L 5 



66 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

at the Great House, and that in due course 
he meant to marry Miss Elizabeth, who in 
the interim was at her own home, under- 
going some educational process, which the 
Misses Wifforde considered would have the 
effect of rendermg her more fitted for the 
high calling whereto she was destined. 

It is only fair to say that every one (the 
domestics at the Great House alone ex- 
cepted) felt, so far as we could tell, satisfied 
with the arrangement proposed. By the 
county families it was considered an emi- 
nently just and prudent proceeding on the 
part of the owners of the Wifforde estate. 

So long as a nearer relative remained, 
the rich spinsters had naturally felt that 
the ancestral property was scarcely theirs 
thus to dispose of; but now, when death 
had swept every direct heir and hehess off 
the face of the earth, when the broad acres 
promised at their death to become bones of 
contention amongst far-away kinsmen and 
kinswomen, it seemed both right and fit- 



QUIET TALK. ' 67 



ting that an heir should be named, and 
brought up to feel that sense of respon- 
sibihty which always ought to be a charac- 
teristic of those likely to become the 
owners of large estates or great wealth. 

And this youth — this Sylvester — had 
ever been very dear to the ladies at the 
Great House. Between his mother and 
themselves there had, up to the time of 
her death, existed an almost romantic at- 
tachment ; and it had never been any secret 
that the Misses Wifforde paid the expenses 
of his Eton and college career, and that 
they always intended to provide hand- 
somely for him when he came to man's 
estate. 

All these particulars, and a great many 
more, my grandmother detailed as we sat 
at work with one solitary candle between 
us, thus whiling away the tedium of the 
December nights ; whilst Mary was whiling 
away the tedium of her evening with a 
certain young man from the village, who 

5—2 



68 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

had been devoted to her for some few 
years. Years were as nothing in that part 
of the world, which seems to me now the 
more singular, since they passed so slowly. 

I was older than my actual age, and 
getting somewhat of a companion to that 
dear old guardian, who found in me one 
virtue, that of being an admirable listener. 

Not one of the tales of lords and ladies 
was to me more entrancing than my grand- 
mother's old-world talk about the Wilfordes 
of Lovedale, their friends and theu- rela- 
tives. 

Marvellously exciting were her narra- 
tives of how she had seen, over and over 
again, the hounds in full cry, and the 
huntsmen at full gallop, passing through 
Motfield's farm. The days of her youth 
came back no doubt in all their freshness 
and beauty as she talked, for there was a 
breath as if of the early morning air hang- 
ing about those reminiscences. 

" I can remember well," she said, " the 



QUIET TALK. 69 

last Squire bringing home his bride. I 
was a Httle girl then, less than you are 
now ; but it seems like yesterday that I 
saw the arches and the flags, the carriages 
and the prancing horses, that I heard 
the men hurrahing, while the Squhe took 
off his hat and drove through them bare- 
headed, and his wife bowed to right and to 
left. There were dinners and balls, and 
the whole place used to be one blaze of 
light. Ay, there were great doings from 
that time on till her death ; but after that 
it seemed as if the Squire could not bear 
the sight of friends or strangers. 

" She was a beautiful creature. At 
Coui't, where they say every lady is beau- 
tiful, she was more so than any. I re- 
member the day she died quite well. I 
was standing at my father's door, when a 
groom from the Great House rode past like 
one mad. His horse was covered with 
white foam, his spurs were bloody — I could 
see that as he passed ; so I ran down the 



70 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

field to where my father and brother were 
mowing, and cried out that sometliing 
dreadful must have happened at the 
Squire's. 

" So there had. In half an hour the 
man and Dr. Elliott passed our house 
again, riding side by side together. 

" ' What is the matter "?' my father 
shouted as they went by. But Alick — 
that was the groom — never stopped. lie 
just turned in his saddle and said, ' My 
mistress !' 

" Before the doctor got there she was 
dead, and they buried her and the httle 
baby, who would have been heir had he 
lived, before the next Sunday came round. 
The Squu'e, they said, was like a man 
distraught ; he used to cry over her coffin 
like a child ; and I have seen him myself — 
ay, fifteen years after — standing beside her 
grave late at night, when he thought no 
one was about. 

" That Mr. Cleeves was a relative of his 



QUIET TALK. 71 

^Yife ; and it was said, althougli he opposed 
the idea of Miss Dorothea marrying him 
on account of Ms being poor and much in 
debt, still he would have given his consent 
in the end ; indeed, I heard he had sent, 
tellmg Wx. Cleeves he might return ; but 
it was too late. He had married some 
gill without a halfpenny, and Miss Wif- 
forde stayed single for ever after." 

" And why did not Miss Laui-a many T 
I mquired. 

" People said she was too fond of her 
father and sister ever to leave them ; but 
I always had my notion she liked a cousin 
who did not care very much about her. 
But there, child, fold up your work, and 
we will get to bed. Why, it's nine o'clock 
already, I declare !" 

Thus, night after night, the generations 
of the Wrftbrdes, and the deeds they did, 
and the wives they married, and the horses 
they rode, and the lands they owned, were 
rehearsed to me ; and when my grand- 



72 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

mother was not talking about their former 
doings, she and I spoke softly of Mr. 
Sylvester and Miss Elizabeth. 

Over and over again I repeated when 
and how I had seen that young lady, and 
was applauded for my caution in having 
kept my own counsel. 

" Still, you might have told me, Annie," 
added my grandmother, after the fashion of 
one person reproaching another for keeping 
some dainty titbit all to herself 

And, indeed, in our solitary Hfe not 
sharing any piece of news did seem a piece 
of wanton greediness ; but then, as I said 
and truly, I was afraid to share it, lest she 
should be angry at my having ventured to 
stop even for a moment under the balcony. 

The Wiifordes were as gods to me, and 
I feared the consequences of letting it 
be known I had intruded even unwittingly 
into their holy of hoHes, and in that sacred 
place heard the profane sound of whistling. 

Cliristmas came, and with it the new 



QUIET TALK. 73 

heir. We saw him drive with the Misses 
Wifforde to church on the Christmas 
morning ; the family chariot was had out 
for the occasion, and consequently we ob- 
tained from behind oiu' curtains a good 
view of him. A young gentleman of one 
or two-and-twenty, with brown hair, a 
broad white forehead, and a grave thought- 
ful cast of countenance. 

" Like the Wiffordes," said my grand- 
mother. My own memory of the family, 
however, only containing portraits of Miss 
Laura and Miss Dorothea, two prun and 
starched old maids, the likeness so appa- 
rent to her failed to strike me. 

Yes, he had come. Apartments re- 
papered, re-painted, re-decorated, re-fur- 
nished, were set aside for his exclusive use. 
It was hinted he had a bias for learning, 
that books written in strange tongues lined 
the shelves ranged round his private sittmg- 
room ; that the library of the Great House, 
long unused, was to be rearranged ; that 



74 . HOME, SWEET HOME. 

his aunts — so, for convenience, the house- 
hold began to style them — were as proud of 
his learning as they were fond of himself. 

And in truth Sylvester Wifforde had in 
him the making of a most courteous gentle- 
man. 

I shall never forget one Sunday when, 
meeting us suddenly at a turn of the 
narrow footpath, he stepped aside into the 
mud of the high road with as much gallantry 
as though my grandmother had been young 
and pretty, and his equal. 

She curtseyed and thanked him, apolo- 
gizing likewise. He took off his hat and 
smiled — such a smile, so sweet, so frank, 
she could speak of nothing else for a week. 

Yes, he had come at last, this Mr. Syl- 
vester, this Wifforde in all but name ; a 
gentleman and a scholar. Could any choice 
have been better than that the ladies at 
the Great House had made concerning their 
heii" ? 

He was an admu'able horseman too, and 



QUIET TALK. 75 



that was well ; for I doubt much, had he 
lacked the capability and the will to go 
across country, whether, considermg the 
family traditions, he would have been 
deemed a fit successor to the Wiffordes of 
old ; but he could ride, not a doubt of that. 
Often when he has been returning home to 
dinner, a little late probably, since we had 
finished our tea, I have seen him riding 
like a very Nimrod along the sandy road ; 
his reins loosely held in one hand, and his 
other, the whip in it, resting on his thigh ; 
his feet well m the stirrups, his knees 
griping the saddle, whilst his black horse 
Templar, delighted to have " got his head," 
thundered along to the lodge-gates. 

All ! youth is very beautiful to our 
imagination, if age be very dear to our 
hearts ; youth is the poem, age the tragedy ; 
youth is romance, age something more real 
and pathetic than reality ! That young 
man was the embodiment of romance to 
me, and, looking at him, I pitied the two 



76 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

gaunt ladies who, althougli they might 
have been young once — a fact it was, how- 
ever, impossible for me to believe — could 
never be so any more. 

In those days I often marvelled why the 
Misses Wifforde did not travel, in order to 
behold those places of which I had read, 
and which my soul desired ; but I marvel 
at their snail-like existence no longer. 
Looked up to as gods in Lovedale, regarded 
as something like royalty in Fau-port, what 
glimpses of the Holy Land, what foreign 
seas, what unclouded skies, what gigantic 
mountains, what historic towns, could have 
compensated to minds constituted like 
theirs for the ftdl shock of a revelation that 
there actually existed inhabited countries 
where the Wiffordes of Lovedale were un- 
known, where the worship they received 
from all of us would have seemed as a 
heathen bowhig down before wooden idols ? 

Sometimes when my imagination was 
inspired with a reperusal of those beloved 



QUIET TALK. 77 



books, in the pages of which citrons and 
oranges grew wild, that were overshadowed 
with cork-trees, or perhaps choked up 
altogether by the luxuriant undergrowth of 
American forests, I would astonish my 
grandmother by suddenly asking her 
whether she supposed either of the Misses 
Wifforde had ever been in Castile, or if 
she thought Mr. Sylvester would take a 
journey to Peru. 

" Mercy upon us, child 1" the dear old 
soul would answer, "what should people 
like them want jiuiketing about in foreign 
parts ? It is only sailors and soldiers, and 
restless idle vagabonds, that ever go to 
those outlandish places ; and whatever it 
is that keeps your head running upon them 
passes my comprehension. I am sure you 
never hear me talk of anything out of 
Fairshire." 

Which was indeed true ; and yet her 
statement failed to produce the effect she 
evidently thought it ought to have done, 



78 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

for on one particular occasion I an- 
swered — 

*' But, grannie, when you were down at 
Fairport, and saw the sea, did you never 
wish to sail away and away to some island 
where the palms and the cocoa-nuts grow, 
and where the woods are full of humming- 
birds and parrots, and where flowers like 
those that were at the show can be picked 
wild?" 

Whereupon my relative said frankly that 
she never had ; and proceeded farther to 
declare, she was heart-vexed to find a 
grandchild of hers filling her mind with 
such a parcel of rubbish. 

No good, she added, could come of dream- 
ing and drawlmg instead of minduig my 
seam. Books had done more harm in the 
world than anybody would ever be able to 
reckon up. It was reading poetry that 
caused all my poor mother's trouble. It 
might be weU enough for gentlefolk, who 
had nothing to do except pass the time ; 



QUJET TALK. 79 



but for such as us, reading was about one 
of the worst things a girl could take to. 

With infinitely more to the same effect, 
the peroration being that she was much 
afraid I should never be of use to my- 
self or anybody else — which I felt at the 
time to be a most unjust remark, as I really 
did my best to darn our stockings properly, 
and to keep the singular collection of orna- 
ments our sitting-room boasted free from 
dust. 

Such feeble acts of propitiation to the 
household deities utterly failed, however, 
to satisfy my grandmother. 

" You are getting a great girl," she was 
wont to say — her remark must be under- 
stood to refer to age, not stature — " and if 
you are ever to be fit for anything, you 
ought to be learning. Why, when I was 
no bigger than you, I could knit a stocking 
and turn the heel of it as well as I can do 
now. I had done a sampler, for which my 
father got a rosewood frame. I could make 



80 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

a pudding; and, a couple of years after, 
not a loaf of bread or pat of butter was 
used in the house that I had not the hand- 
ling of I sometimes think, as your Aunt 
Jane says, that you will be fit for nothing 
but to sit up to a pianoforte playing — and 
you cannot do that well. I wish I had 
burnt yonder old thing when it came into 
the house, and the books with it. You are 
not a bit like your cousins. They are con- 
tent to play their tune and come away ; 
but you would like to be strumming morn- 
ing, noon, and night ; and I believe you 
would, if there was nobody by to hear you. 
Bless my heart, if the child is not crying 
again ! A body cannot say a word to you 
now without your beginning to fret." 

And this was true. I had a passion for 
music, which restraint only made more 
vehement. Now I am aware that, as I 
grew older, I must, with my temperament, 
have been just such a trial to my grand- 
mother as a ducklmg proves to a hen. 



QUIET TALK. 81 

Then I knew she was often as great a trial 
to me as the hen is to the duckhng. 

Whenever I tried to get off to my be- 
loved pond, she called me back, and clucked 
me up under the secure but uncomfortable 
shelter of her wings. 

She did not understand such ways. She 
was afraid I had taken after my father. 
She should not let me go back again to 
Fairport ; my uncle spoiled me. 

Dear, dear grannie, how you loved me 
through it all ! but yet how many a 
night you have made me sob myself to 
sleep ! 

I was the sole duckling amongst the 
Motfield hens and chickens. What marvel, 
therefore, that my proclivities should occa- 
sion surprise, not to say alarm ? 

Wishing for what is vain, I often, musing 
in the twilight, wish with an unutterable 
longing that the woman who cared for me 
with such untiring love could have lived to 

see me now, to understand that it is pos- 
VOL. I. 6 



82 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

sible for a duckling to follow its instincts 
and yet still return safe to land after all. 

Perhaps in a better world she has learned 
what she certainly never thoroughly under- 
stood in Lovedale — namely, that even 
amongst the grandchildren of a yeoman 
there may be as much difference in tem- 
perament, character, and aspirations as 
amongst those of an earl. 

But any difference in the members of a 
family astonished my grandmother. That 
such a person as Miss Elizabeth Cleeves 
could have developed — I use the word be- 
cause " retrograded" might not be strictly 
correct — out of the Wiffordes, was to her a 
never-ending source of wonder. 

To her, for a creature such as Miss 
Hunter described to be the product of a 
respectable series of ancestors, was as great 
a phenomenon as though our staid cow 
Cowslip had presented the household with 
a six-legged calf 

Such things were, it is true ; but they 



QUIET TALK. 83 

had never been amongst the Motfields till 
that artist unhappily took it into his head 
to visit Lovedale, Such things were ; but 
they had never happened amongst the 
Wiffordes till Mr. Cleeves, thwarted in liis 
design of marrying his cousin, espoused 
Gertrude, niece of General Dacres, who had 
been born and passed a considerable part of 
her life in India, and was generally sup- 
posed to have done nothing m her existence 
except lie on a sofa and read novels. 

In my humble way I fear I caused at the 
cottage as much trouble as Miss Elizabeth 
to the ladies at the Great House. 

Once I saw her ride past with Mr. 
Sylvester. Yes, she was a hoyden ; gallop- 
mg over the strip of green turf as hard as 
her horse could go, and aU the while 
turning round in her saddle and laughing 
at Mr. Sylvester, because he seemed to dis- 
approve of her mad pace. 

" Grannie," I asked, " did the Misses Wif- 
forde ride much when they were young T 

6—2 



84 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" No, child," she answered ; " they were 
always ladies." 

From which remark I inferred that, 
amongst the traditions of the Wifforde 
family, equestrian exercise for ladies was 
considered masculine and unbecoming. 





CHAPTER y. 

AT FAIRPORT. 

MONGST the attractions of Fak- 
port was its theatre, which has not 
been hitherto mentioned, because 
until I attained my twelfth year I had not 
the remotest idea what the inside of a 
theatre might be like. Externally the 
building was uninviting. It was a cross 
between the Methodist chapel and the 
town-hall, but dui:ier than either ; and in 
the season it had bills stuck upon it, as in 
like manner there were notices of meetings, 
tolls, rates, and sermons posted on the 
doors of the other edifices above men- 
tioned. 

To me the word "theatre" conveyed no 



86 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

impression. I could not understand what 
was meant by acting. That world still re- 
mained a terra incognita; not even the 
piece of carved wood referred to in my first 
chapter had been wafted from the footlights 
to the shores I inhabited. 

The Motfields were not a family given to 
dissipation. They were a money-saving, 
home-loving people, and whilst my uncle 
attended to his customers, my aunt saw to 
her household. They were ambitious in 
their way, but it was a modest way. He 
wanted a plate-glass front for his shop 
instead of the small panes, which suggested 
rather than revealed the beauties of his 
crimson and blue bottles. Her soul longed 
for a satm dress and a gold chain of a very 
heavy and cumbersome pattern which ob- 
tained at that period of the world's history. 
Farther, she desired one son should be a 
curate, the other remaining with his father 
and the drugs ; whilst my uncle's cherished 
desire was that Jemima Jane, his first- 



AT FAIRP0R7. 87 

born, should mate with the son of a 
wooUendraper in a large way of business, 
and who hoped some day to be mayor. 

To a certain class in London the title of 
Lady Mayoress seems a thing to be 
coveted ; and to my uncle it appeared de- 
sirable that one of his daughters should be 
married to the son of a jDOSsible provincial 
mayor. 

The origm of such desires being matter 
past finding out, I can only record his 
wishes ; and deduct therefrom the moral, 
that a person whose horizon happened to be 
bounded by them was not in the least 
degree likely to be in the habit of wasting 
his shillings and half-crowns on the pit or 
dress circle of a local theatre. 

Once, I believe, he had gone with an 
order to witness the tragedy of Damon and 
Pythias. Having myself in later times 
been a spectator of that enlivening play, I 
can well imderstand a man might be con- 
tent ever after to leave the drama as 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



enacted in Fairport to the patronage of his 
idler and richer neighbours. 

But at leng-th there came to Fairport a 
company the names composing which caused 
a flutter and excitement amongst all ranks 
and classes in the town. 

Hitherto we had esteemed the young 
ladies arrayed m scarlet riding-habits and 
the foreign-looking gentlemen attired in 
black velvet, who went in procession along 
the parade on those rare occasions when a 
large tent was pitched on a certain piece of 
common land lying outside the town, as 
amongst the most remarkable of created 
beings ; but now, when rumour declared 
that the then queen of song was coming, 
had come, to Fairport, every other feeling 
gave place to an uncontrollable curiosity 
to know sometliing about her. 

The local papers had each an article on 
the opera in general and that special opera- 
singer in particular. Over their cards staid 
tradesmen dealt out musical and financial 



AT FAIRPORT. 89 



gossip ; how they understood she had a finer 
voice than Madame This, That, and The 
Other, whom more than one said they had 
heard at Her Majesty's when they visited 
London in such a year, 

A large hthograph of her as Norma 
appeared in. the shop-windows, and it was 
generally rumoured that the income she 
derived from her shakes and cadenzas was 
about equal to that of the county member. 
In addition to which, we all somehow 
learnt that her extravagance and her 
charity were about equally matched, and 
kept rapid pace together. 

She had arrived. It was on a Satiu-day 
night that one of the waiters from the 
Crown Hotel brought the news of her 
actual appearance to my uncle. They had 
all arrived, in fact, and the hotel was 
turned upside down. 

Nothing in it pleased any one. The 
'prima donna had brought down her own 
cook, maid, and lap-dog ; the tenor was at 



90 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

the moment of Ms, the waiter's, departure 
engaged in a stormy interview with the land- 
lord ; one of the minor stars had despatched 
him, the speaker, for eau-de-Cologne, atooth- 
brush, a box of quill pens, and two sticks of 
black sealing-wax, with a hurry which 
scarcely left the man's speech mtelligible. 

Already every flower in the Fairport 
nursery-grounds had been cut to decorate 
the dinner-table ; while the chief, or rather 
chieftainess, of the party had ordered in 
enough slii'ubs in pots to convert her apart- 
ments into a bower. 

Farther, they jabbered together in a 
language, or rather in many languages, 
unintelligible to the waiter ; they laughed 
much, they ate much, and they drank 
more. In fine, he concluded they 
were a *' queer lot ;" but " then, all 
them play-actors were the same;" at least, 
so he understood. " He had not seen 
much of them liimself, he was glad to 
say ;" such remark being intended as a 



AT F AIRPORT. 91 



side-wind at The George, where the 
traofedians and comedians who occasion- 
ally honoured Fairport wdth their presence 
were wont to put up. 

AH these statements my uncle repeated 
over the supper-table to his wife, and we 
children, being permitted to sit up on 
Saturday as well as Sunday evenings to 
partake of the various dainties provided, 
had the satisfaction of having oiu^ cu- 
riosity whetted as our appetites were 
appeased. 

What a night that proved to me ! For 
hours I lay dreaming dreams, wide awake, 
about that strange land whence these 
strangers had come ; and when I fell asleep, 
it was but to wander on into still more lui- 
famihar scenes, peopled by ladies who wore 
crowns and gentlemen who strode along 
with swords by their sides, and who each 
and all bore some distant family like- 
ness to the circus troupe, as well as 
to the' heroes and heroines whose ideal 



92 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

portraits graced the pages of my favourite 
volumes. 

How eagerly, when morning broke, I 
longed for the time to arrive when, prayer- 
books in hand, we should accompany our 
elders to church, where I had promised 
myself a sight of the new arrivals ! 

That any human beings, except beggars, 
sailors, and maids-of-all-work, should absent 
themselves from St. Stephen's, was an 
idea which had never entered into my 
mind. 

Even the very soldiers duly marched up 
to the sacred edifice, and after service 
marched away again to the sound of as many 
musical instruments as are mentioned in the 
third chapter of the prophet Daniel. Why, 
then, should the lady, whose features 
were famihar to me through the medium 
of the lithograph already mentioned, remain 
away'? 

But she did — they all did. They came 
not to morning service, or to afternoon, or 



A T FAIRPORT. 93 



to evening ; and my disappointment, though 
unconfessed, was so great that I could eat 
nothing, and had in consequence a dose of 
physic compounded by my uncle's own 
hands. 

It was not easy to swallow, but it was 
better to take it than confess my folly. 
So I crept up to bed, and looked out on 
the sea bathed in the moonhght ; and then 
fell asleep, wondering what it could seem 
like to be a rich lady, able to go about 
where and when she chose, and even take 
a drive instead of going to church. 

That, it was darkly whispered, the 
stranger had done, and what gave colour to 
the story, was the known fact that several 
of her party had gone out for a row across 
the bay. 

It was frightfully wicked, but the very 
wickedness had a fascination for my imagi- 
nation, stimulated as I now know it to 
have been by a sermon preached that morn- 
ing, the gist of which was a commination 



94 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

against all persons who performed plays, 
all persons who went to witness plays per- 
formed, and all persons who wished to 
witness them. 

In church, conscious of my own guilt as 
regarded the last clause, my soul had, if 
I may say so, metaphorically hidden herself 
away beneath the sandals of my shoes. 
When I came out into the sunshine, how- 
ever, my spirits revived ; and as we walked 
home along the parade, the moral of the 
sermon seemed to me much less true than 
I am bound to say it does now. 

Dear to me — ah, how dear no words 
could ever describe — is the aspect of a 
well-filled, well -lighted theatre. The very 
smell of the place recalls memories that 
can never be quite forgotten till I have 
ceased remembering ; the sound of the 
instruments makes me feel like a war-horse 
scenting the battle. Yes, I love play- 
acting ; but I am not quite sure whether 
the curate of St. Stephen's was not right 



AT FAIRPORT. 95 

after all. At all events, there is a wide 
difference between the doors of Drury-lane, 
for instance, and the strait and narrow gate. 

Clearly my aunt was of that opinion, for 
she made many disparaging remarks con- 
cerning singing men and singing women, 
about people who could earn as much 
money in a night as many a hardworking 
father of a family could in a year. She had 
a good deal to say also about wickedness in 
high places, and instituted a considerable 
number of comparisons between virtue and 
non- virtue, which then conveyed no mean- 
ing to me. Nevertheless, I was glad to 
get away from the supper-room and the 
talk, such as it was, to my chamber, look- 
ins; out over the moonht sea. 

Next evening, spite of the sermon, all 
the rank and fashion of Fairport flocked to 
the theatre. I saw plenty of youth and 
beauty driving past — ladies with riagleted 
hau-, carrying choice bouquets ; some 
coquetting with fans, some leaning a little 



96 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

forward to look out of tlieir carriage- 
windows. It was a vision of " fair women ;" 
but no human being has ever faithfully 
described the effect such a vision produces 
on a woman except the author of Jane 
Eyre, and no one need attempt to do so after 
her. 

Late that night, hours and hours subse- 
quently — so it seemed to me, though the 
length of time was an entire delusion — I 
crept from my couch to see those carriages 
flash back again ; and then, after the last 
had passed and the sound of its horses' 
hoofs died away down the jDarade, I crept 
with a vague mental hunger upon me, 
back to the little cot, with its white hang- 
ings and snowy coverlet, that never after 
that visit held me again. 




CHAPTER VL 

AT THE OPERA. 

|N the Thursday following that even- 
ing when, to the delight of a 
crowded audience, Der Freyschutz 
was put upon the boards as creditably as 
could be expected, considering the limited 
resources at the manager's command, my 
Aunt Jane, her eldest son, and her eldest 
and youngest daughters started off to pay 
a visit to Daniel Motfield, another uncle of 
mine, who had estabhshed himself in a 
town some fifteen miles off as a corn- 
merchant. 

He was only a corn-merchant in a very 
small way ; but his wife brought him some 
money, and as it was known that at her 
father's death all he possessed would come 

VOL. I. 7 



98 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

to her and her children, Mrs. Daniel seemed 
to my Aunt Jane a person whose friendship 
was to be desired : a sentiment Mrs. Daniel 
reciprocated, wherefore the two ladies 
visited each other as frequently as the 
intervening fifteen miles of country would 
permit. 

When Mrs. Daniel came to Fairport, 
she brought some of her children, and 
remained for a day or two ; when Mrs. 
Isaac Motfield went to Deepley she was 
invariably accompanied by some of her off- 
spring, who were wont to speak rapturously 
of the pleasures to be found, and the dainties 
to be enjoyed, at their Uncle Daniel's house. 

Towards myself Mrs. Daniel Motfield 
adopted a very simple coui'se. Virtually 
she ignored my existence, of which I have 
now every reason to beUeve she at that 
period strongly disapproved. After kiss- 
ing my cousins all round, she would indeed 
so far unbend as to give me one finger that 
I had to shake, and say — 



AT THE OPERA. 99 

" Well, Annie, how are you T or, " So 
you are here again, Annie V 

Once I remember she gave me six wal- 
nuts ; but that was because I had, most 
reluctantly, presented to her a beautiful 
little needle-book, that had come with the 
pictures and the brocades and the spinet 
from the old house where my father 
died. 

Mrs. Daniel still preserves that needle- 
book, and exhibits it to her acquaintances 
as a proof of the generous disposition her 
dear niece possessed even when quite a 
tiny child — the praise being totally unde- 
served, as I never gave anything away 
with less good will in my life. 

I did not like Mrs. Daniel; and yet 
when I stood on the doorstep and saw my 
cousins drive off in the bright sunshine, my 
heart was so lonely and sad, that I had 
much ado to keep from bursting into tears 
there and then. 

So few people cared for me. I tried 

7—2 



100 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

hard to be good ; but in my case certainly 
goodness was its own reward, for no one 
appeared in the smallest degree interested 
about the matter. 

For the moment I almost hated the 
sight of my cousins' bold healthy faces, as 
they turned round and waved their hands 
in farewell. 

One of them had msisted on my lending 
her a brooch, which it was certain she would 
never return, as she publicly stated to her 
mother that Annie had given it to her; 
and I lacked moral courage to enter a 
protest against the assertion. My grand- 
mother would, I knew, be vexed at its 
disappearance. She had not wanted me to 
take it to Fahport, from which place I 
generally returned home as bare of valu- 
ables as a plucked fowl is of feathers ; but 
my entreaties carried the day, and now the 
brooch was gone, together with a reticule, 
knitted of blue-silk cord, lined with white 
silk, and adorned with tassels — another of 



AT THE OPERA. 101 

the small possessions which, my cousin's 
soul desiring, it had. 

And yet I was ungrateful for thinking 
about these things or feeling hurt because 
they did not take me with them. Was 
not a visit to Fairport as much of an " out- 
ing " for Annie Trenet as a visit to Deepley 
for them ? Had not my aunt kissed me, 
and said I was to be sure and take gfood 

a 

care of my uncle and Tommy ? — the rest 
of the family being from home. Had she 
not given directions for a pudding to be 
made, and a cake baked ? Yes, that was 
all quite true ; but I wanted, nevertheless, 
to have been driving along the road I knew 
so well from description : through the 
woods, across the ford, down the long hill 
to Deepley. I wanted to see Mrs. Daniel's 
drawing-room, where the blinds were al- 
ways down, lest the sun should fade the 
carpet ; where the chairs were tied up in 
brown holland pinafores, that if undone, 
revealed ghmpses of amber damask ; where 



102 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

there was a real glass above the chiiniiey- 
piece, and three painted urns with gilt 
handles and knobs — my cousins said gold 
handles and knobs, but I have since re- 
jected this account as fallacious — on the 
mantelshelf; where there were cabinets 
filled with foreign shells and feather-fans — 
the gifts of a brother in the merchant- 
service ; where there was bead-work that 
famtly shadowed forth Mrs. Daniel's love 
of the elegances and refinements of life ; 
and where tlie very table-covers were 
wrought in tent and cross-stitch, to 
the admiration of all permitted to behold. 

Farther, I desired to ride round the 
paddock on Dapple, a certain, staid pony, 
who had, I feel confident, a poor life of it 
when those boisterous young folks took 
him in hand ; and I wished to pick up 
walnuts myself, and to eat of the fruit of 
the luscious mulberry-tree, which grew — I 
knew the very spot — in the middle of a 
grass-plat, which was, to quote Jemima, 



AT THE OPERA. 103 

" covered and covered with berries, that 
were always falling from the boughs," 

Then there were pet rabbits and an 
Angola cat, and a little white dog, and a 
large black one ; and not one of these pos- 
sessions had I ever beheld, although my 
cousins must have seen them over and over 
again. 

It may not seem much, after all, to have 
fretted about ; but small trials are great 
to little people, and with a very sorrowful 
heart I ascended the staircase, and went 
into the drawing-room, and looked out 
over the sea. Then I went up another 
flight, into my aunt's bedroom, and looked 
over the sea again ; after which I took a 
third view of the same scene from my own 
chamber. 

By this time I felt better, and remember- 
ing Tommy, who had been induced to bear 
the parting from his mother without making 
public lamentation only by the promise of 
lozenges, which he was then enjoying, de- 



104 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

cided on taking that young gentleman out 
for a walk. 

As a rule, Tommy was not a desirable 
companion ; but on this occasion he proved, 
as his mother would have said, as " good 
as gold." Whether it was the effect of the 
lozenges eaten, or of the prospective pud- 
ding to be eaten, it is difficult to say ; but 
the usually fractious imp demeaned himself 
towards me with an amiability and a de- 
corum foreign to his nature. 

Did I msh to go on the sands, he did 
not immediately desire to remain on the 
parade ; did I suggest walking through the 
town, he was not instantly seized with a 
passion for collecting shells and sea- weed ; 
and accordingly Tommy and I, with a rare 
harmony, wandered first along the beach, 
and returned home by a circuitous route, 
which led past the terrace and the hotel, 
and then through that street where the 
theatre was situated. 

There I stopped, and read slowly the 



AT THE OPERA. 105 

huge flaunting bill, which set forth that on 
Thui'sday evening would be performed II 
Barhiere, and on Saturday Eurydice — an- 
nouncements which dispelled the small 
amount of cheerfulness acquired diu-ing our 
walk. 

Should I ever grow up and go to theatres ? 
Should I ever hear any music different from 
that in St. Stephen's — anything which 
should fulfil my ideal of minstrelsy ? Should 
I ever be in the same house with those beau- 
tifally dressed ladies I had watched on Mon- 
day night, and should be looking at again 
that evening, as they drove along the parade? 

Well might Tommy accuse me of cross- 
ness, and threaten to lift up his voice unless 
I told him a story on the spot ; well might 
my uncle, bringing a healthy appetite with 
him to dinner, ask me if I were ill, that I 
sat so silent, and ate nothing. 

" I am quite well, thank you, uncle," I 
answered ; but I could not help unbidden 
tears fiUing my eyes as I did so, and no 



IOC HOME, SWEET HOME. 

doubt lie half guessed tlie source from 
wlience tliey sprang, for he said, cheerfully 
and kindly — 

" Never mind, my Uttle maid. If Mrs. 
Daniel does not want you now, somebody 
else will want you hereafter. Put a bright 
face on it ; there will be money bid for you 
yet." 

Then I did what I dare say astonished 
him mightily : I got up, and threw my 
arms round his neck, and put my lips to his, 
Tommy the wliile, in an access of amaze- 
ment, surveying the tableau with his mouth 
filled so full of pudding, that he had subse- 
quently to swallow it with a gulp. 

In that moment I tliink my uncle's 
memory leaped back over the barrier oi 
years. He was a boy again, and my 
mother but a mite of a child, and he and 
she were wandering tlirough the fields 
together, bii'd - nesting, primrose - seeking, 
butterfly - catching, blackberry - gathering, 
nutting, as they were wont ; for she 



■AT THE OPERA. 107 

had been his favouiite of all the flock, which 
was the cause, perhaps, of the comparative 
kindness I received at the hands of his 
household. 

He was young again, for the moment, 
and she was aUve ; but ah, well-a-day ! 
youth passes away like a shadow ! And 
here were he and I — he middle-aged, I a 
child as she used to be — speaking heart to 
heart with a sort of mute appeal. 

" I tell you what, Nannie," he remarked, 
after a second's pause : " you and I will 
walk up to the theatre to-night, and see 
all the gentlefolk going in to hear the great 
singer. Should you like that T 

" Oh, uncle !" I exclaimed. 

" Me too," put in Tommy ; wliich obser- 
vation we both ignored, feeling our happi- 
ness would not be increased by Tommy's 
presence ; and silence, in his opinion, givmg 
consent, the young gentleman remained 
satisfied. 

What an afternoon that was ! What a. 



108 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

glory there seemed over the sea ! what a 
beauty in the sunshine, in the long stretch 
of sandy beach, in the white- winged vessels, 
ay, even in the boats drawn up on the 
shingle ! How I devoted myself to Tommy ! 
What tales I told him, what pictures I ex- 
hibited before his expressionless eyes, what 
pains I took with the child, physically and 
mentally, nobody would believe. We played 
at cat's-cradle ; I taught him the royal game 
of goose. I seemed lifted up into a sort of 
seventh heaven, since at length one person 
seemed vaguely to understand I lacked 
something necessary to happiness. 

For the first time in my life I beheve I 
was that day popular ; and I had my reward, 
yea, in very truth. 

Duly set out was the tea-table — thin 
bread-and-butter and thick slices of bread 
duly graced the board. Jam appeared in a 
small glass dish, and the cake, which already 
Tommy had devoured in anticipation. 
There likewise was the sugar-basin into 
wliich his fingers strayed to such an extent 



AT THE OPERA. 100 

that, finally presenting him with a spoon- 
ful, I placed it on the mantelshelf beyond 
his reach. 

Everything was ready excepting the tea. 
But where was my imcle ? How did it 
happen that he, usually punctual, should 
not have appeared ere now ? 

The servant, from whom I sought infor- 
mation, reported him as absent; and Tommy, 
struggling at the moment to lug a heavy 
chair to the fireplace in order to reach the 
sugar-basin, paused in his efforts on hear- 
ing her reply, and entreated me to cut the 
cake. 

" It must be cut some time," urged that 
terrible child, " and pa wont mind." 

"If I did anything of the sort, yom- 
papa would be excessively angry," I re- 
plied, with that calm dignity which befitted 
my age. 

Whereupon Tommy pulled a face at 
me, and recommenced his infantile la- 
bours. 

He had just got the chair into position, 



110 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

and was going to mount it, whilst I, on my 
part, was about to remove the sugar-basin 
to a still greater altitude, when my uncle 
burst into the room. 

" Nannie," he cried, " how should you 
like to go to the opera T 

" Oh, uncle !" I gasped out, hke one who 
had been asked a question too strange to be 
true. 

" I am not jesting, my little girl," he said. 
" As I was coming down the parade, I met 
Mr. Bilbay, of the Flying Mail, and he said 
he had a box for four, and that if I would 
like to hear Madame Serlini, he had two 
places to spare. So I told him my little 
niece was music mad, and that if I might 
bring her too, I would be there. You must 
put on youi" best bib and tucker, child, for 
it is the stage-box, although I do not sup- 
pose anybody will notice us." 

It was all fairyland after that. In no 
earthly habitation, I am sure, was the tea 
poured out that night. In Arcadia I ate a 



AT THE OPERA. Ill 

slice of bread-and-butter, and cut Tommy 
enough cake to make a dyspeptic of him 
for Hfe. But the digestion of some children 
is wonderful, and I believe he went to bed 
more willingly in consequence. 

I waited to pour out a third cup of tea 
for my uncle, who, perceiving the impatience 
I tried in vam to hide, then said — 

" We have not much time to lose, dear. 
Run upstairs, and put on your best frock, 
and let us be gomg. If you have not got 
a dress of your own good enough for the 
occasion, look in your cousins' drawers, and 
take what you need." 

But I had a dress with me — a lovely 
dress, that must, so Miss Hunter declared, 
have been embroidered in a French con- 
vent, and served probably as a christening- 
robe to some one who lived and died before 
I was thouo-ht of 

My grandmother, thinking it a pity so 
rare a thing should lie hidden any longer, 
had brought it forth from amongst the 



112 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

brocades, and made aii upper skirt of it for 
me, which I wore on such rare occasions as 
a visit to the minister's wife, or a tea- 
drinking at the schools, over a fine white 
muslin slip. 

The bodice had, under Miss Hunter's 
advice, been likewise skilfully manipulated ; 
and when I appeared in this attire, with a 
curious Indian necklace round my throat, 
and my short hair — it was the custom then 
for children to wear short hair — brushed 
out and made to appear as well as possible, 
Uncle Isaac — arrayed, to my astonishment, 
in a white tie and a swallow-tailed coat, 
which latter had done service at his wed- 
dmg — looked at me approvingly, and said — 

" You will do, child. Put on a thick 
cloak, Nannie," he added, "for you will 
find it chilly coming out of that warm 
theatre." 

And in two minutes more we were 
reaUy, actually, truly, on our way to the 
opera. 



AT THE OPERA. 113 

I could not believe it possible, and yet 
still I did believe it. I would have danced 
along the parade, had not a sense of de- 
corum restrained that ebullition of feeling. 
The only way in which I permitted my 
rapture to evidence itself was by giving 
my uncle's hand, which I held, a great 
squeeze from time to time. 

He too seemed very happy. On the 
whole, we were just like a couple of 
children out together for a holiday, too 
enjoyable to be talked about or fully 
realized at the time. 

When we got into the High Street, he 
turned into a draper's shop, where the 
following dialogue took place — 

" Good evening, Mr. Nelson." 

" Good evening, sir." 

" I want a pair of gloves for my little 
niece. We are going to the opera." 

And so the gloves — the first pair of kid 
I ever had in my life — were bought and 
paid for, and put on and buttoned by 

VOL. I. 8 



114 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

kindly Mrs. Nelson, who stooped down and 
kissed me when she had effected that feat. 

In a drawer upstairs lie two gloves, 
that, small though they are, were then 
too large for me ; and I never can look at 
them without a sorrowful longing that I 
could go back and live that evening over 
again, and touch once more the hand of 
him who was thenceforward so stanch and 
tender in his love. 

What a blessed visit that of Mrs. Isaac 
Motfield to Mrs. Daniel Motfield proved to 
me ! And yet I had been discontented 
and ready to cry when the party started. 
I felt ashamed of myself, and in an access 
of gratitude and happiness gave Uncle 
Isaac's hand such a terrible squeeze, that 
he said, laughingly — 

" There is no necessity for you to break 
my bones, Nannie, although we are going 
to the opera." 

" But I can't believe that we are going," 
was my reply. 



AT THE OPERA. 115 

" Well, seeing is beKeving, surely, for 
here we are," he answered ; and, still 
holding his hand, we threaded our way 
amongst the carriages that were already 
blocking up the narrow street, and entered 
the building. 

Of course, having lived so long in Fair- 
port, he was well known to all the people 
connected with the theatre ; and though 
some of them looked rather astonished at 
seemg him there, dressed so elaborately, 
every person was very kind ; and whilst 
one took charge of his hat and overcoat 
and umbrella, another reheved me of my 
cloak and bonnet, and a third led us along 
a narrow passage covered with red carpet, 
at the extreme end of which he unlocked 
a little door, and let us mto a place close 
to the stage, hung all round with chintz, 
and furnished with four chairs, that had 
red velvet cushions and white enamelled 
backs. 

If fairyland was ever presented to 



116 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

a child's eyes, fairyland opened before me 
at that moment. The light, the glitter, 
the beautifully dressed ladies, the band, the 
scenery, appeared before me like some 
unreality produced by the wand of an 
enchanter. 

Was I awake or dreaming ? Vainly my 
eyes looked round the house for an answer, 
I was stricken dumb and stupid with the 
sight, and stood like one bewildered, till 
my uncle, pulling me gently towards him, 
bade me sit down on one of the back 
chairs. 

" For Mr. and Mrs. Bilbay will be here 
shortly," he added. " What do you think 
of it all, Nannie ?" 

I could not answer. I could only stare 
at the place in which I found myself with 
a sort of transfixed wonder. 

Experience, which teaches us so much 
we should be glad never to have learnt, 
has informed me smce, that the Fairport 
theatre was dirty, shabby, small, and incon- 



AT THE OPERA. 117: 

venient ; but to my imagination that 
night it seemed like the palace of a king, 
or rather like one of those enchanted 
halls I had read of in Eastern stories — 
where thousands of lamps shine brightly, 
where gold and precious stones are strewed 
about as freely as pebbles on the seashore, 
where ladies are dressed in the height of 
magnificence, and the aspect of everything 
is different from that of our work-a-day 
world. 

Suddenly my eyes perceived in a box 
on the opposite side some faces which were 
familiar to me. There, attired in rustling 
silks, with splendid shawls wrapped round 
them, with lace and ribbon softening, not 
concealing, their grey hair, sat the two 
Misses Wifforde ; and there too was Miss 
Cleeves, restless and unblushing as ever, 
whilst behind stood Mr. Sylvester, and 
some other gentleman with him. 

Here was a nice state of things ! If 
Miss Wifibrde knew we had presumed to 



118 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

come into such high and mighty company, 
might she not have something done to us ? 

The terror of caste was very strong 
upon me as I whispered — 

" Do you know, uncle, the ladies from 
the Great House are here ?" 

" Well, dear, they will not eat you up, 
I suppose," he said, more in answer to my 
terrified expression than to my words ; 
but I doubt if even this fact would have 
put me at my ease, had not Mrs. Bilbay 
appeared at the moment — an immense 
woman, who, good-naturedly insisting on 
my sitting in the front beside her, faMy 
enveloped me in the folds of her volu- 
minous skirt. 

Mrs. Bilbay was a Londoner who cared 
as little for the traditions of local greatness 
as Miss Cleeves herself, and looked round 
the house through her opera-glass with a 
coolness which shocked while it inspired 
me with some degree of confidence. 

As for Mr. Bilbay, in comparison to his 



AT THE OPERA. 119 

wife he appeared much, about the same size 
as a shrimp might beside a large crayfish. 
Nevertheless it was rumoured he had the 
stronger will of the two, and successfully 
managed to get his own way, which was 
not a bad way either. 

"Do you think you shall enjoy it, little 
one?" she asked, after she had completed 
her survey of the house and exchanged 
remarks with her husband about some few 
of the audience. 

" Yes, ma'am," I replied, softly. 

My heart was in my mouth with de- 
light, and yet I could find no better 
answer. 

" Monday's performance would have been 
the one for you to see," she went on ; 
" plenty of movement and spectacle. The 
music to-night will be lovely, but the plot 
is very quiet." 

Without in the least understanding 
what she meant, I answered that it would 
be beautiful to me, which seemed satis- 



120 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

factory to Mrs. Bilbay ; for slie smiled, 
and was proceeding to give me an outline 
of the opera, when her husband said, 
" Hush !" and the first act commenced. 

It had all been unreal enough before, 
but from that moment I was like one in a 
dream ; and as the opera proceeded, the 
fascination grew upon me till I forgot 
the spectators, my companions, and my 
own identity, in listenmg to such singing 
as it seemed to me could be like unto 
nothing except that of the angels in 
heaven. 

Since those days I have heard almost 
every noted singer of the time. Many 
more famous than my particular star have 
trilled their lays and rehearsed their woes, 
but to me there can never be such another 
'prima donna as Lucia Serlini. 

Others might have more magnificent 
voices, others greater dramatic power, 
others more perfect and regular beauty ; 
but no one woman ever combined such 



A T THE OPERA. 121 

expression, such grace, such refinement, as 
she who was the love of my youth. 

I did not comprehend, of course, a word 
she sang. Mrs. Bilbay had placed a book 
of the opera before me, but it lay on the 
front of the box unheeded till my uncle 
removed it for his own private instruction ; 
while I sat and listened spell-bound, quiet, 
yet with a vague yearning, an unsatisfied 
longing, in my heart, the cause of which I 
cannot clearly define even to this hour. 

All at once there came a burst of 
applause louder and more persistent than 
any which had preceded it. The song of 
the opera was ended, but I naturally was 
then ignorant of the fact. 

" Marvellous !" exclaimed Mr. Bilbay, 
clapping his hands with all his might. 

" Simply perfection !" said his wife. 

" What did you think of that, Nannie ?" 
asked my uncle, leaning forward. 

And still the storm of applause con- 
tinued ; still the rain of bouquets fell at 



122 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

her feet ; still she curtseyed her acknow- 
ledgments, mo.ving slowly backward all the 
tune. 

Then a tempest of noise arose. A hur- 
ricane of encores and bravos swept through 
the house. The audience clapped and 
stamped till I thought the place must 
come down. 

" What does it all mean ? What do 
they want ?" I whispered to Mrs. Bilbay. 

" They want her to sing it again ; and 
see, she is going to do so." 

For a moment a greater tumult of ap- 
plause than ever, more curtseying, more 
bouquets ; next instant a silence which 
might have been felt, and then, breaking 
the stillness, came that divine voice sing- 
ing the first notes of " Home, Sweet 
Home." 

I never heard anything hke that woman's 
rendering of the melody — never in all my 
life. Already I was worked up to such a 
pitch of excitement that I could scarcely 



A T THE OPERA. 123 

keep from crying ; and wlien, after the 
slow " Home — home — sweet — sweet — 
home," she broke forth, with a sort of 
passionate assertion, mto the next Hne, 
" There's no place like home," endmg with 
something which seemed an expression of 
melancholy regret for home lost for ever — 
" There's no — place — hke home," the tears 
I had hitherto restrained fell hot and fast 
on the cushions. 

Just then she chanced to look towards 
our box — through a mist I could see her 
beautiful eyes resting on me for a second. 
It was only a momentary glance, but it 
recalled me to a consciousness of where I 
chanced to be ; and with a swift sense of 
shame, I wiped my eyes, and clasped my 
hands tightly together with a determina- 
tion of not being foohsh again. 

And I did not shed another tear, and 
neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bilbay, nor yet my 
uncle, suspected what I had done mitil the 
opera was just finished, when the box- 



124 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

keeper presented Mr. Bilbay with a twisted- 
up note written in pencil. 

That gentleman read it twice over, and 
then, handing it to my uncle, remarked — 

" The little lady is highly honoured." 

After which he passed it on to his wife, 
who, after perusal, gave the scrap of pajDer 
to me, saying at the same time — 

" What in the world does that mean, 
chHd T 

I read it, and in a moment rose up, dizzy 
and with my cheeks all aflame. 

" Please do not be angry, uncle," I en- 
treated ; " but I could not help crying, 
and the lady saw me — I know she did." 

Whereupon Mr. Bilbay and Uncle Isaac 
exchanged smiles, while the former, patting 
my shoulder, said — 

"I daresay Madame SerHni is not of- 
fended with you past forgiveness. Sum- 
mon up all your courage, and come with 
me. It will never do to keep her ladyship 
waiting." 




CHAPTER VII. 

IN THE TWILIGHT. 

HAT night, as we walked home 
along the parade, and looked out 
over the moonlit sea, I do not 
think, in the length and breadth of Great 
Britain, to say nothing of Ireland and the 
Channel Islands, there could have been 
found so happy a little girl as myself. 

The beautiful lady, so far from appearing 
angry, had asked, m her charming imper- 
fect English, with a sweet foreign accent, 
if I loved music much, who I was, whence 
I came, if I had brother and sister, mother 
and father ; and when I told her I had 
neither brothers, sisters, mother, nor father, 
she afathered me to her heart in silence. 
Then, after a moment's pause, she asked 



126 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

if I should like to come again to the opera 
on Saturday. 

" Uncle Isaac would not be able to bring 
me, ma'am," I answered. 

" Your charming wife will take charge of 
the child — is it not so, dear sir ?" said the 
lady. 

Whereupon Mr. Bilbay promised faith- 
fully that his charming wife would do so ; 
and we came away after Madame Serlini 
had touched my cheek with her Hps, and 
said — 

" Adieu, dear child ; we shall meet 
again." 

All of which was duly recounted to my 
companion as we retraced our steps home- 
ward. 

" It was better than going to Mrs. 
Daniel's, was it not, Nannie V said my 
uncle. 

" A thousand tunes over," I an- 
swered. 

And then we were very unromantic, and 



IN THE TWILIGHT. 127 

sat down to supper, and discussed the 
whole opera from beginning to end. 

"I do not know much about music 
myself," said Uncle Isaac ; " but I should 
say that woman's singing is worth all the 
money we hear she gets for it. Besides, 
one bad cold might spoil her voice for life ; 
and of course she must put by for a rainy 
day." 

Put by ! I listened to this idea with 
all deference then ; but the time arrived 
when I luiderstood the ludicrous absurdity 
of bracketing two such incongruous ideas 
as " saving" and the beautiful 'prima 
donna. 

" You must get to bed now, Nannie," 
was my imcle's remark, when he mixed 
himself a glass of punch, and filled the pipe 
he invariably smoked before retiring to 
rest. " You must get to bed, or else your 
aunt will find you with pale cheeks on her 
return, and scold us both." 

Prophetic words, although the scolding 



128 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

we received was not the result of any 
delicacy in my appearance. 

For the first time almost in my remem- 
brance of the household, there was a serious 
and angry dispute between husband and 
wife. My aunt, from some unexplained 
cause, did not return home in the sweetest 
of tempers. Something had evidently dis- 
turbed her equanimity and touched her 
vanity — never a diihcult feat to perform ; 
and when she heard that her husband had, 
as she straightforwardly worded her sen- 
tence, " been such a fool as to take a child 
who was uppish enough, and silly enough, 
and useless enough before, to hear an opera, 
and get her head stuiied full of ridiculous 
notions," she emptied the vials of her wrath 
on our devoted heads. 

As for me, I was a " sly, underminded, 
hypocritical little brat, who would never 
come to any good, any more than my father 
had done before me " 

"Bemember the child's father is dead," 



IN THE TWILIGHT. 129 

broke in my uncle, in a tone I had never 
heard him use previously. 

" The more reason she should be grateful 
to those who have been mother and father 
both to her," rejoined my aunt. " No, 
Isaac ; if you are an idiot and bewitched 
by your niece, I am no idiot, and she 
cannot delude me. I will have no such 
sneaking ways in my house. Stuck up 
in a box at the opera, indeed, like any 
lady, and kissed by play-actors afterwards ! 
How do you suppose this will fit her for 
the sort of life you know she must lead ? 
You would not catch any of your own 
children crying like babies, and putting 
themselves forward out of doors. No ; 
she is getting too old to be gadding 
about visiting ; and so I shall tell 
her grandmother. And you thought 
you would be allowed to go again 
to-morrow night, did you, miss ? By that 
time you shall be safe at home in 
Lovedale. I will have no such goings-on 

VOL. I. 9 



130 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

in this house so long as I am mistress of 
it." 

" There, Nannie, you have been scolded 
long enough," broke in my uncle at this 
juncture. " E-un away, and put your things 
together, and you shall go back by 
the coach this afternoon. Your aunt is 
right : there shall be no apple of discord 
in any house I am master of." 

His eyes were very bright, and his 
coloiu" very high, and his tone almost mock- 
ing as he spoke ; and 1 obeyed his com- 
mands, imderstanding intuitively that he 
had ranged himself on my side, and that 
there was going to be a dreadful quarrel. 

And a dreadful quarrel they had — so 
Jemima, who listened outside the door, in- 
formed me, while I sat sick and faint on 
the side of my bed, hurt as I had never 
been hurt before, wounded beyond possibi- 
lity of cure — thus it seemed to me then — 
pained to an agony which could not even 
find expression in tears. 



IN THE TWILIGHT. 131 

I liad been so happy, and I was so 
wretclied. From a seventh heaven of bliss 
I had been cast down into depths which 
my soul had never previously fathomed. 
Most innocently I had caused discord 
between my uncle and aunt. His very 
kindness to me was now occasioning him 
trouble. And still the war went on, till 
I heard the drawing-room door close with 
a bang, and my uncle descend the stairs 
vdth a haste foreign to his nature. 

" Shall I help you to pack up your 
things T said Jemima, who, perhaps remem- 
bering the brooch, was anxious that my 
exit should take place before, mth mmd 
at ease, I was in a position to expose the 
fraud practised by her. 

" Please," was all I could say ; but I 
could not help watching her while she 
packed, and noticing that anything of 
value was left in the drawers, a perqui- 
site for the girl who elected to be my 
assistant. 

9—2 



132 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

From a social position higher than her 
own I write these lines, and therefore I 
am quite sure that when she proffered her 
assistance Jemima's character was that of an 
embryo lady's-maid, minus the qualities 
which render a lady's-maid a desirable 
inmate of a family. 

After a time, regardless of trifles, I aban- 
doned my former attitude, and leaving 
Jemima to appropriate as much as she liked, 
crept down to my uncle. 

"I am going home -with you, dear," he 
said. " I want to see my mother." And 
accordingly we went home to Lovedale 
together. 

Since that time I have ascertained the 
ticket intended to admit me and a friend 
was appropriated by my aunt, who, with 
Jemima, went to the opera and beheld 
Eurydice. 

Eurydice ! With my present knowledge 
of that opera there is to me a wonderful 
satire m the idea of Mrs. Isaac going to 



IN THE TWILIGHT. 133 

see it at all — she to whom anythmg 
but the most unromantic of lower middle- 
class convenances were as Eleusinian mys- 
teries. 

Eurydice, with its passion, and its pathos, 
and its power ! what meaning on earth 
should it convey to a woman whose sole 
aim in existence it was ultimately to pos- 
sess a better-furnished drawing-room than 
Mrs. Daniel, and to see her sons and 
daughters mated to the daughters and 
sons of prosperous tradesmen 1 

All right and proper without question, 
and above ever3^hing, human, but never- 
theless so totally prosaic an existence, that 
it repelled my imagination utterly when 
I attempted to enter its preciacts. 

They would have none of me, and for 
the future I could have none of them; 
wherefore I returned to Lovedale, to my 
old life and my old pursuits, bringing back 
with me to each and all a vague unrest 
remarkable in one so young. 



134 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

My sudden return occasioned much grief 
to the dear grandmother ; and but for 
Uncle Isaac's kmdness in accompanymg me 
home, and explaining the circumstances 
under which I had, so to speak, been ex- 
pelled in disgrace, I scarcely know how I 
should have satisfied her of my total imio- 
cence of evil in the matter. As it was, she 
rebuked her son for taking me to such an 
improper place as a theatre ; she said she 
thought Jane was quite right in insisting 
on my immediate departure. 

"You know well," she went on, "that 
the child is unlike other cliildren, and has 
strange-enough ways and notions, without 
having any more put into her head." 

" With all due deference to you, mother," 
was the reply, " I do not beheve you will 
change Nannie's ways and notions unless 
you can have her re-created. As Mr. Bilbay 
said to me last night, she has the true 
artist nature ; and although I fear that 
nature may not add to her happiness here- 



IN THE TWILIGHT. 135 

after, still I am certain it would be wise 
to recognise its existence and treat her 
accordingly. For some inscrutable reason 
the Almighty does not make everybody 
alike, and it seems to me very Uke waste 
of time to attempt to change His designs. 
Here is Nannie, brought up entirely by you, 
as different from any one of your children, 
her mother not excepted, as a bluebell is 
from a thistle. She is a dear good Httle 
girl, grateful for very small kindnesses, 
whom I had not thought much about, or 
in the slightest degree understood, till 
yesterday. But I think I do understand 
her now ; at any rate I know that 
whilst I live she shall never want a 
friend." 

I could not bear it any longer ; I crept 
quietly out of the room where mother and 
son sat together in the twilight, and went 
into the garden, and down to the end of 
the paddock, where I could hear the murmur 
of the Love as it flowed over the stones far 



136 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



below. There after a time ray uncle joined 
me. 

" Nannie," he began, " I did not know 
you had come back into the room when I 
was talking to youi^ grandmother, or I 
should not have spoken as I did. As you 
did hear what I said, however, I want you 
to do something for me." 

" What is it ?" I asked eagerly, — " what 
is it ? I will do anything on earth for you." 

" I want you to prove me a true prophet. 
I want you to be a good gM, who shall 
comfort your grandmother for all the sorrow 
your poor mother caused her. I will tell 
you the story of your mother's marriage, 
Nannie, and you must never forget the 
misery it caused." 

There, in the twilight, with the moon 
struggling to clunb up high enough to look 
over the dark belt of fir-trees that skirted 
the eastern side of the Wifforde domain, I 
first heard that tale repeated right through, 
from beginning to end. My uncle did not 



IN THE TWILIGHT. 137 

speak harshly of either of my parents ; he 
only pointed out the suffering and the 
regret his sister had brought upon herself 
and her family by her disobedience ; and he 
prayed of me beyond all things to keep 
truthful, to avoid concealment even in the 
most trivial matters, to be honest and 
thorough. 

" And if you will only promise me this, 
and try with all your heart and soul and 
strength to keep it, I shall not be afraid, 
even with your nature, to see you start on 
your journey through life, which you may 
have to perform alone some day — though 
not while I live, please God." 

" I will try to be good, uncle," I answered. 
" I have tried ; but I wHl try harder now, 
for poor grannie's sake and yours." 

He took my hand and shook it, j ust as if 
I had been a man ; and then we went back 
into the house together, and found my 
grandmother looking all the happier for 
that long talk with her first-born. 



138 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

He stayed with us until the Monday 
morning, and we amused ourselves with 
long walks about the country — ^by nutting 
and gathering blackberries, and by visits to 
people he had known in his younger days. 

Never, in my recollection, had one of my 
grandmother's sons paid her so lengthened 
a visit ; and the dear soul was quite grati- 
fied at having a male creature to fuss over. 

Marvellous were the culmary delicacies 
she prepared for his delectation. Wonderful 
was it to behold the thought she took for 

o 

his comfort, and the means she devised to 
insure it. Sometimes my uncle would say 
to her — 

" Mother, if I came here often, you would 
completely spoil me." 

" My children have never given me a 
chance of spoilmg them," she answered on 
one occasion ; and there was a slight tremor 
in her voice as she spoke, the meaning of 
which I did not understand then, though I 
comprehend now that there are tunes m a 



IN THE TWILIGHT. 139 

woman's life when it does seem a trial to 
have reared sons and daughters only in 
order to give them over to the daughters 
and sons of other people, whose interests 
shall be their interests, whose hopes shall 
be their hopes, and who shall hold such 
possession of them, that in due time the 
old home becomes but a vague memory. 

" Be very good to my mother, Nannie," 
were the last words he said to me ; and 
then she and I, hand clasped in hand, went 
back from the little gate — whence we had 
watched his retreating figure till it disap- 
peared in the distance — to the seam, and 
the knitting, and the stocking-mending, 
and the long-ago stories that had made up 
the tale of our usual existence, the not un- 
pleasing monotony of which I have tried, 
scarcely so successfully as might be desu-ed, 
to describe. 



CHAPTER VIIL 

MISS CLEEVES. 




KIETING the WifForde estate, that 
river from which our valley de- 
rived its name flowed sometimes 
quietly, sometimes noisily, on its way to 
the sea. 

When the winter rains fell, and the 
drifting snow lay thick upon the green 
fields around Lovedale, then the Love 
dashed over stones and boidders, a very 
giant in its might ; and again, when the 
ice under which it had perforce kept 
within bounds was melted in the early 
spring — then once more the waters had 
dommion over the earth, flooding the 
fields, undermining the banks, uprooting 
the sheltering trees, bearing huge rocks 
along in its progress. 



MISS CLE EVES. 141 

In its strength the Love was a very lion, 
but in its gentleness it could be a lamb. 

To hear its listless ripple in the summer- 
time, it was impossible to realize the roar 
and din of its December career. 

Late on into the autumn it sometimes 
sang its low- voiced melody, and there was 
no time in the year that I loved its tones 
better than when, beneath orange and red 
foliage, daintily tripping its way around 
rock and stone, just covering the gravel 
and the sand, touchmg with a caressing 
hand ferns, brambles, and grasses, it 
dreamed its life away just as I was dream- 
ing mine. 

Dear river ! I close my eyes, and m ima- 
gination I hear your ripple and lament, 
still the same as I heard it one autumn 
morning long ago, when I sat perched on a 
great stone m the middle of your stream, 
singing to your accompaniment. 

Have I said the early morning was the 
perfectly free part of my life 1 If not, let 



142 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

me say so now. We were awake with the 
first streak of day, we breakfasted at un- 
heard of hours. After breakfast my grand- 
mother, unlike Desdemona in all other 
respects, was, like her, on household cares 
intent, and only too glad for me to find 
some employment or amusement that 
should ease her of my unprofitable pre- 
sence. 

During that period I was " somewhere" 
— all she then cared to know ; in the 
garden, by the beehives, dusting the nick- 
nacks, perhaps strumming the spinet. 
Latterly, however, I was a long way from 
home ; singing where no one could hear 
me — singing to the birds, and the trees, 
and the murmurmg river songs that mine 
own soul alone had thorough cognisance of. 

We lose all this as we grow older. Men 
forget the mad passion with wliich they 
wooed Joan, and Joan on her side has 
only a faint memory of the throb her 
heart gave when she heard the gate latch 



MISS CLE EVES. 143 

lifted to give ingress to her lover. Artistes 
sing for so many guineas a roulade ; artists 
paint for so many hundred pounds a face — 
perhaps the face — for such a number of 
guineas a landscape — perchance tlie land- 
scape — with wliich a thousand enchanting 
or heartbreaking memories are connected. 

Life seems to me so odd a thing divested 
of its romance, as mistakenly all of us try 
sooner or later to depict it, that in despair 
— ^looking at the whole scheme as that 
scheme is sometimes represented to me in 
the pages of books and the axioms of those 
with whom I come in contact — I must lay 
down my pen for a moment ere I can make 
the boulders and the stones, the over- 
hanging trees, and the ferns and grasses of 
that wandering Love, mine again — once 
more. 

There, it belongs to me, that past. It 
is the early morning of a day in autumn ; 
and I, having followed the bend of 
the stream from that deep defile far 



144 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

below our cottage, where it flowed on 
swifter and darker towards the sea, up to 
the higher ground, found myself at length 
in a spot which always delighted my soul, 
filling it with a rapture and a peace that 
were none the less real because I never 
could understand the source whence they 
sprang. 

It is the early morning, and the sun 
shines brightly. I sit down on a boulder 
in the middle of the stream, and look 
around on the beautiful earth. To my 
right are pleasant fields, sloping gently 
away to the valley below ; to my left lies 
the gable of the Great House, seen im- 
perfectly, by reason of intervening plan- 
tations. Against the bright blue sky the 
fir-trees stand out darker and more gloomy 
than ever. At my feet there is a pool of 
clear water, so clear and bright that I can 
see the gravel and sand at the bottom. 
Amongst the stones the river — by reason 
of long drought little more now than a 



MISS CLE EVES. 145 

trickling rivulet — wanders in and out, sing- 
ing low songs to its own murmuring 
accompaniment. Under the alder-trees — 
mere bushes at this point — I can see the 
speckled trout darting hither and thither. 
The leaves of the trees are all yellow and 
gold, and scarlet and crimson ; the low 
banks are clothed with brambles and ferns, 
with hawthorn-trees on which the berries 
are turning red ; whilst on the mountain 
ash, or Rowan, as we called it, the rich 
clusters are already scarlet. 

A glorious morning, with a certain crisp- 
ness in the air, invigorating as the first 
breath of early spring ; a morning when the 
autumn, having donned her best apparel, 
seeks to persuade one her mature beauty is 
greater than the timid loveliness of May, or 
the rich glory of August ; seeks, and for 
the moment succeeds in her endeavour. 

Basking in the sunshine, with eyes wan- 
dering hither and thither, I, at all events, 
am happy. Queen of all I survey, why 

VOL. I. 10 



146 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

should I not be so ? For me the murmur- 
ing river, with never an uneasy thought as 
to poachers or rights of water ; for me the 
distant church-spu'e, with no tithe to pay ; 
for me the soft beauty of green fields 
sloping tenderly, with no rent to find ; for 
me tangled brier and brilliant berry, with- 
out ever a halfpenny of wages to disburse ; 
for me the dark plantations, and never a 
forester or gamekeeper to employ ; for me 
the enjoyment of God's loveHest places, 
without rates, taxes, servants, appearance, 
to pay for. 

Ought I not to be happy ? Yea, truly ; 
spite of my Fairport memories, or perchance 
because of them, I am happy. 

Thirty miles stretch between me and 
Mrs. Isaac Motfield. Seated in the middle 
of the Love, she has no dominion over me. 

If that beautiful lady came and talked 
to me now, Mrs. Isaac need never know 
anything about our interview. But then 
the lady was not in the least degree likely 



MISS CLE EVES. 147 

to come ; and as I thought of that — 
thought vaguely that for the future the 
course of my life was settled, that I should 
never go to Fau"port again, never behold 
any more the grand company I had once 
seen assembled within the walls of the 
Theatre Boyal, never hear such singing 
more — my heart, spite of the crisp air and 
the bright srmshine, and the free wide land- 
scape, died away in a sort of stupid faint. 

Just then a thrush, perched on the dead 
branch of a willow close at hand, began to 
sing, quietly at first ; but warming no 
doubt with his theme, unintelligible as the 
stor}^ might be to me, he burst forth ulti- 
mately into such a chaos of song, that when 
he ceased, I could not choose but follow 
him and Jier. 

On his branch he sat and looked at me ; 
from my rock I sang and looked at him ; 
sang inspired by him and her, by "the 
breath of the early morning, by memory, 
by youth, by solitude and beauty. 

10—2 



148 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

It was lier song I sang. I had known it 
before, but re-learnt it from her teaching. 
Could I ever forget how she sang it ? 
Never. As I write she comes forward to 
the footlights, and in her sweet foreign 
accents trills out that Enghsh ballad. 

" Home, home," I sang, imitating all un- 
consciously her expression and intonation 
" sweet, sweet home " — the thrush turned 
his bro\Aai head on one side and looked at 
me intently, but uttered never a note — 

" There's no place like home, 
There's no — place like home !" 

" Brava !" cried some one behind me at 
this juncture — " brava ! encore ! Don't in 
your excitement pitch yourself off that lofty 
peak. Soyez tranquille ; I am coming to 
you as fast as it is possible, considering 
Nature has denied me the use of wings." 

Yes, there she came. Miss Cleeves, attired 
in dazzling white, wearing a most remark- 
able sun-bonnet, pickmg her way over the 
stones to me — Annie ! 

" I say, little gM," she went on, " where 



MISS CLE EVES. 149 

did you get that voice ? Good Heavens, 
were I only the possessor of such a voice ! 
You must have heard Madame Serlini. Oh, 
I remember now. You were the child in 
the stage-box who cried, as well you might, 
as I should have done had I dared. Sit 
down this moment, and sing that song for 
me acfam." 

Here was a fix ; I dared not refuse, and 
I could not obey. I essayed to do so in a 
sort of abject terror ; but the words died 
away on my lips, and the tones of my voice 
were so low and subdued that the thrush, 
taking courage from my cowardice, broke 
forth mto a triumphant carol at the end of 
my foui'th Hne. 

" There, you are a stupid !" exclaimed 
Miss Cleeves, as I broke down ignomi- 
niously. " I do hate shy people ; they are 
such idiots." And sitting opposite to me, 
with her feet dangling over the pool, and 
her hands supporting her cliin, she surveyed 
me at her leisure. 

" Little girl," she said at length, breaking 



150 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

a silence which appeared to me awful, " do 
you know who I am ?" 

" Yes, miss," I answered. 

" Don't say ' miss,' like a charity-child ; 
now, who am I T 

" Miss Elizabeth Cleeves." 

" Quite right. And how do you know 
I am Miss Elizabeth Cleeves ?" 

She hurt my pride so much by mimick- 
ing my voice and manner, that taking 
courage I replied boldly enough — 

" I have known you by sight for years. 
I first saw you standing on the balcony of 
Miss Wifforde's house at Fau-port." 

"So you have found yoiu- tongue," she 
remarked ; " that is better. And now you 
will perhaps be kind enough to tell me who 
you are, and how it happens that I find 
you twenty miles from Fairport, sitting on 
a flat rock in the middle of the Love ?" 

" I hve at Lovedale," was my answer ; 
"in that small white cottage down yonder." 

" Then how came you to see me at Fair- 
port 1" 



MISS CLE EVES. 151 

*' I was staying there with my uncle." 

" And who took you to the opera T 

" Uncle Isaac. Mr. Bilbay gave him two 
tickets." 

" What is your name T 

" Annie Trenet, miss." 

" I told you before not to call me miss. 
If you do it again I shall box your ears. 
What is your father T 

" I have not a father," 

" What was he when you had one ?" 

" He painted pictures." 

" What sort of pictures ?" 

" Like that ;" and I pointed vaguely to 
the hills and the trees and the rippHng 
river. 

" Oh, landscapes. Who was your mother?" 

" Daughter of old Farmer Motfield. The 
Misses Wifforde bought his land when he 
died." 

" Is your mother living ? Why, child," 
she went on, as I shook my head, "your 
talk is a perfect obituary. It is like walk- 
ing through a graveyard, and reading 



152 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

' Sacred to the memory '' at every step. If 
every one belonging to you is dead, who 
takes charge of you in that small white 
cottage down yonder ?" 

She was mimicking me again ; but I did 
not care for it so much now. There was 
something in the mere fact of sitting on the 
same piece of rock, and talking on equal 
terms with a relative of the Wiffordes, 
which filled me with so terrible an astonish- 
ment, that minor matters seemed to fade 
away from view. 

" I live with my grandmother," I an- 
swered. 

"And who taught you to smg ?" 

"No one ; and I cannot sing." 

" Cannot sing !" repeated Miss Cleeves. 
" Ye stones, Hsten to that. If I could sing 
like that, little girl, I would do something. 
I don't know, indeed, what I would not do ;" 
and she rose, and with arms folded across 
her bosom, looked solemnly down the stream 
as she made this assertion. 



MISS CLEEVES. 153 

Wliile she stood there a natural idea, 
suggested probably by her dress and general 
appearance, occurred to me. 

"Miss Cleeves," I ventured, "do you 
think you ought to stay talking to me 
here ? If the Misses WifForde knew of it, 
they might not be pleased." 

"Why not, child?" 

She asked this moodily from under the 
shelter of her sun-bonnet. 

" Because — because" — and the words 
almost stifled me, though I was deter- 
mined to say them — " I am not a lady like 

■)■> 
you. 

Then she turned and looked at me, took 
my measure from head to foot, from foot to 
head back again. 

" Little girl," she said, " though you can 
sing as I never thought a child of your age 
could, you have a great deal to learn. 
Genius has made you a lady. Do you un- 
derstand me ?" 

" No," I answered ; albeit dimly I think 



154 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

I comprehended what that remarkable 
young person meant. 

" Genius has its own rank," she went 
on. "I shall come and see you. Good-bye ; 
wont you shake hands V 

I felt timid about avaihng myself of her 
proffered courtesy. 

" I wonder what will be the end of us 
both some day !" she said 

O my soul, in the watches of the night I 
have often repeated that cry ! 

In the stillness her voice falls once more 
upon my ear ; spite of the darkness that 
scene rises out of the past, and spreads 
itself before me in all the glory of an au- 
tumn morning, across which lay the glamour 
of my own young fancy. 

Again the sun tips the many-coloured 
leaves with gold, again I behold the soft 
green fields sloping off gently towards Love- 
dale ; there is our tiny cottage ; at my feet 
ripples the Love. I stand alone on the 
boulder, while with light and rapid move- 



MISS CLE EVES. 



155 



ment Miss Cleeves picks her way across the 
stream, and reaches the bank, and after one 
wave of her hand trips off in the direction 
of the Great House ; and then I begm to 
pursue my own way down the stream, won- 
dering in what words I shall tell my grand- 
mother of that marvellous adventure. 




CHAPTEE IX. 



I SING. 




HEN two persons who, so far as 
temperament is concerned, have not 
much m common hve an utterly 
secluded existence, such, for example, as 
was led by us dwellers in the small white 
cottage, it is astonishing the difficulty that 
may be experienced by one at least of the 
twam in communicating the occurrence of 
any event which has happened out of the 
beaten track of every-day routme. 

Along the monotonous road we trod any- 
thing in the shape of news was Hke some 
rare and beautiful flower springing beside 
our path ; and yet, like a selfish little 
wretch, I should have preferred keeping the 
rare exotic, whose acquaintance I had made 



/ SING. 157 

in the middle of the Love, for my o^vii per- 
sonal delectation. Besides, how would my 
grandmother receive the intelligence ? How 
might I ever tell her that actually within 
sight of the Great House I had been indulg- 
ing myself with a private concert, and 
singing " Home, Sweet Home," to the ex- 
pressed satisfaction of Miss Elizabeth 
Cleeves ? 

That she would be shocked at my " bold- 
ness," I was well aware ; that she would 
forbid me the Love and soHtary rambles, I 
fiilly expected ; that she would desire me 
for the future to " mind my seam," and 
leave singing to ladies and play-actors, were 
things of course. Nevertheless, I felt it 
incumbent upon me to divulge the secret ; 
and after weary hours of waiting and con- 
sideration and hesitation, my opportunity 
came. 

It was after tea ; household duties were 
ended for the day. In the cowshed Cowshp 
was chewing the cud with luxurious in- 



HOME, SWEET HOME. 



dustry ; in the stable Tom had finished his 
oats and chafF, and was thinking of settling 
down for the night ; long before the pigs 
had nestled underneath the straw, and now 
lay, snouts extended, snoring in ecstatic 
comfort ; the hens, led by a patriarchal 
cock, had retired to roost some hours pre- 
viously ; and the ducks I had seen waddling 
up from their accustomed pond, while there 
was still light enough to show the green 
paddock, and the white procession defilmg 
homewards to the music of an occasional 
" quack." 

Within the house everything was almost 
as still as in the farmyard. Another Jack 
and another Jill made love in the kitchen, 
where previous vows had resulted in matri- 
mony ; in the parlour my grandmother sat, 
knitting stockings intended for the use of 
one of her progeny ; while I silently stitched 
away at a wristband, destmed in good time 
to walk about Fairport, attached to one of 
Uncle Isaac's snowy shii-ts. 



/ SING. 159 

There had been a long pause, broken only 
by the click of her needles, and the noise I 
made in drawing my thread in and out. I 
was considering how I should commence 
my story, and my companion evidently, 
after the manner of some elderly persons, 
resented my silence. 

" Why are you so dull and quiet to- 
night V she inquired. 

" I was thinking, grannie," I replied. 

"That is a very bad habit for you to 
fall into. You should break yourself of 
it. 

" I will try, grannie," was my meek 
answer. 

" And what were you thinking about ?" 
she next inquired. 

" About Miss Elizabeth Cleeves," I said, 
taking courage. " I met her this morning 
when I was out." 

" WeU, there is nothmg wonderful to 
think of in that. You have seen her many 
a time before. How was she dressed ? Was 



160 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

she riding with Mr. Sylvester, or in the 
carriage with her aunts ?" 

" She was neither, grannie. She was 
standing on a big stone in the Love talking 
to me." 

Notwithstanding my dread of conse- 
quences, I could not help feeling a little 
triumph in noticing the effect produced by 
this statement. 

Here was news with a vengeance ; here 
was food for reflection and comment ; here 
was " Startling Intelligence," inserted in 
our domestic newspaper ; and all by me. 

" Talking to you !" repeated my grand- 
mother ; " what in the world could Miss 
Elizabeth find to say to you." 

To the speaker, it was evident she looked 
upon the announcement made so suddenly 
as she might at an assertion that I had 
met Queen Victoria taking a morning stroll 
through Lovedale, and been honoured by 
an interview. 

" She asked me a great many questions," 



/ SING. 161 

was my reply, " about my father and 
mother, and where I lived, and who took 
care of me, and how I happened to go to 
the opera at Fairport — she saw me there ; 
I thnik she sees everything — and who 
taught me to suig. And then, when I told 
her I could not smg, she laughed and said 
she wished she had a voice like mine. She 
is such a strange young lady, grannie. She 
called me 'little girl,' and forbade my 
saying ' Miss ;' and when I asked if she 
did not think the Misses Wifforde would be 
angry if they knew she was there talking 
to me, she laughed agaui, and said she 
meant to come here ; and, oh, grannie, don't 
be angry about it, for I was afraid to say 
her nay." 

I looked up in my grandmother's face, 
frightened by the unbroken silence she had 
maintained during this long sentence, and 
beheld there an expression I shall never 
forget. 

It was as though she were bearmg the 

VOL. I. 11 



162 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

trouble of her life over again. After my 
own fashion, with that sort of sympathy 
which a dumb animal can afford to its 
master, I vaguely understood that the 
drama of my mother's jSight, the tragedy of 
that short career, was being enacted on the 
stage of her heart once more. 

" Grannie, grannie !" I cried in my terror, 
" don't look like that ! Forgive me, and I 
will try never to sing again. I promised 
Uncle Isaac I would be good to you and 
everybody, and I will if I can, grannie." 

We were locked m each other's arms by 
this time, and she strained me to her heart, 
as if she felt there was safety for me no- 
where else in the world. 

Then I heard her murmur — 

" I see now my son was right. It pleases 
God to make those even of a family dif- 
ferent one from another. May He guide 
me and this child !" 

And all the while I, feeling there was 
somethiag terrible in so strange a prayer, 
clung closer to her, and cried aloud — 



/ SING. 163 

"Please, grannie, don't. Oh, grannie, 
don't, please !" 

But as if she had not heard, she said, 
putting me back into my chair — 

" Annie, there is one thing I hope you 
are not — I am sure you are not — and that 
is, deceitful to your old grandmother." 

" I am sure I would not deceive any- 
body, if I knew it," I answered boldly, my 
indignation checking the coming tears ; for 
I knew what it had cost me to be frank 
with her, and this was the result. 

" Then tell me, word for word, if you can 
remember, what passed between you and 
Miss Cleeves." 

Her tone was so gentle, it disarmed me 
instantly. Yes, something underlay her 
anxiety I could not understand then, that 
I never did folly comprehend till I had 
cliildren of my own ; and so I began my 
narrative. No need to say " if I could re- 
member." In lives like ours, the few inci- 
dents they contained were all we had to 

11—2 



164 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

remember. How, therefore, was it possible 
for me to forget ? 

I told her all about it ; how in the beau- 
tiful morning, in the middle of the river, 
all alone, as I thought, I was singing my 
song ; and so forth. 

There was no enthusiasm in my narrative. 
Perhaps it produced all the more effect for 
that very reason. When I finished, I knew 
intuitively I had made my mark. 

One from the Great House, young though 
she was, flighty though she might be, had 
praised and recognised the poor ability I 
possessed ; and every one who has learned 
the lesson of life from out the book of his 
own bitter experience cannot fail to under- 
stand that where there is any real ability, 
those of a man's household are the last to 
recognise the fact. For them uncrowned 
genius has no prospective monarchy. In 
their eyes the familiar locks would seem 
unreal burdened by the phantom laurel- 
wreath to come. It is always the unreal, 



/ SING. 165 

the speculative, the self-assertmg, that 
carries domestic conviction of its false pre- 
sence with it ; and so the actual genius lies 
dormant till some stranger, crossing the 
threshold, lays his hand upon it, or till 
genius, having crossed its own threshold, 
finds in the stirring world that recognition 
which was denied on the parental hearth. 

Yes, at length, vaguely, sorrowfully, my 
grandmother understood I was a duckling 
who must, sooner or later steal away from 
the cottage and the familiar existence to 
the great lake of life. 

To that my instincts tended. I was, after 
my fashion, artistic. I had a voice. Miss 
Cleeves said so, and the words were solemn 
to my grandmother as though spoken by an 
oracle. 

I had a voice. Until that hour she never 
recognised the possibility of such a stupen- 
dous fact. The chicken she had reared, in 
fact, proved not a chicken at all, but a 
strange creature who could gyrate in un- 



166 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

familiar waters, and talk without mucli em- 
barrassment to Miss Cleeves herself. 

" What did you say you sang to the 
young lady T my grandmother at length 
inquu-ed. 

" I did not sing anything to her," I an- 
swered. " She asked me to do so, but I 
felt shy and broke down. What she heard 
me singing was Madame Serlini's ballad, 
'Home, Sweet Home.' " 

" I know the song," she remarked ; " but 
I should hke to hear it from you. Sing it 
for me." 

At these words I arose, and going into 
the darkest corner of the apartment, thrice 
essayed to commence — vainly. 

Then, in a sort of desperation, I closed 
my eyes. I reproduced the crowded theatre, 
the foothghts, the beautiful lady ; and just 
as if I were in my small way 2i. prima donna 
in our atom of a room, I began "Home, 
Sweet Home." 

I sang it with the whole of my Httle soul 



/ SING. 167 

in the work. I sang it as though pit, 
gallery, boxes, and stalls were hangmg on 
my words in rapt attention. 

I ended, and there was a dead silence. 
I opened my eyes, and from my corner 
looked towards the figure seated beside the 
round table, hghted by a solitary candle. 

Her elbows rested on the table, her head 
supported by her hands. 

I cannot tell what she was thinking of. 
Altogether I know it seemed more than 
I could bear. 

Out of the room, up the few steep stairs 
into my small chamber, I crept silently to 
bed. 

Long after my best friend thought I was 
sound asleep, I heard her praying audibly 
by my side, " Lord, keep this child from 
evil ;" but I could not tell her I still lay 
wide awake, both because I thought she 
might not like to know I was Hstening, 
and also because I felt that if I spoke, my 
own heart must burst. 



CHAPTEH X. 

OUR VISITOR. 




T would be impossible for me to 
mark with either black or white 
pebbles the Sundays of that far- 
away time. But for the bees and the 
garden, the occasional lamb, the- calf just 
weaned, the newly - hatched clutch of 
chickens, the budding leaves of spring, the 
perfumes of summer, the rich mellow hues 
of autumn, and the snows and icicles of 
winter, Sunday would, I fear, m our 
humble home at Lovedale, have proved a 
dreary holy time to me. 

As it was, there comes wafted to me 
from those Sabbaths of childhood a sense of 
peace, of happiness, and repose. Through 
the great silence which always seemed to 



OUR VISITOR. 169 



follow the stir and bustle of morning 
service, there break upon my ear the lazy 
murmur of honey-laden bees, the ripple of 
the Love, the soft bleating of sheep, the 
prating of our favourite pullets, the plain- 
tive chirrup of a stray chicken. 

And if my thoughts would sometimes 
soar off to Fairport and Fairport doings on 
Sundays, they always ended their flight in 
St. Stephen's Church, and resting with 
folded wings under the tablet aforemen- 
tioned, sat listening with a trembling 
dehght to the pealing organ, and the 
voices of men and women singing tri- 
umphant praises to the Lord on high. 

There was no organ at Lovedale, either 
in the church — wliither the Misses Wif- 
forde drove in great state and ceremony — 
or in the chapel, where we repaired on foot 
with no ceremony at all, unless indeed our 
best clothes, which were donned only once 
a week, could be considered robes of state ; 
and the six Psalm tunes that constituted 



170 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

our repertory utterly failed to satisfy the 
musical requirements of one now so critical 
as Annie Trenet, who had not only frequently 
stolen into St. Stephen's on Saturday even- 
ings to listen to private rehearsals of the 
chants intended to delight next day a 
Fairport congregation, but had actually 
heard Madame Serlini sing, and been 
spoken to by her afterwards. 

There are, I imagme, some children to 
whom, long before they can understand 
the meaning and value of forms and cere- 
monies, the service of the Church seems a 
more grateful form of worship than the 
colder service favoured by Dissent. It was 
so with me, at all events. The bare white 
walls, the square staring windows, the 
stained-deal pulpit, and plain whitewashed 
ceilmg, contrasted unfavourably with the 
softened light, the pamted glass, the 
arched roof, the old monuments that de- 
lighted my heart in St. Stephen's. 

In our chapel there were no monuments; 



OUR VISITOR. 171 



there was oiily one hideous tablet, wliich 
exactly resembled a sheet of mournmg 
note-paper. A rim of black marble edged 
a white slab, whereon was set forth this 
statement : — 

lErecteli in fHEmorg of 

Joshua Sandells, Esquihe, 

Formerly of this Parish, 
And Founder of this Chaj)el. 

He was an affectionate husband, a tender parent, a 
faithful friend, and a sound Christian. 

He passed to his eternal rest on the 1st day of June, 
1829, at his residence, Fairport House, near FairjDort. 

This tablet is presented to Ebenezer Chapel by his 
Widow, who mourns not as those who have no hope. 

" He being dead, yet speaketh." 

The service was as bald as the building : 
extempore prayers of an interminable 
length ; hymns consisting of about a dozen 
verses, sung in unison by the whole con- 
gregation (myself excepted), principally 
through their noses ; two chapters of the 
Bible, one selected from the Old and 
another from the New Testament, both of 
which oiu" minister considered it incrmibent 



172 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

upon him to expound ; and a sermon — shall 
I ever forget those sermons, with their 
''thirdly," "lastly," "finally," and "in 
conclusion ?" — that was the religious bill 

o 

of fare presented to us Sunday after Sunday 
in Lovedale. 

But yet it was a form of diet which the 
inhabitants seemed to like better than that 
offered in the little church hard by. The 
church counted its worshippers by tens, we 
by fifties. Living, the Lovedale people did 
not affect its precincts ; dead, they dotted 
its graveyard. Under a green mound slept 
my grandfather and his fathers before 
him. 

Two headstones placed side by side 
marked the last home of Motfields almost 
without number ; and often on Sundays, 
indeed generally, when we came out of our 
Bethel, our steps wandered naturally into 
that quiet chiu-chyard, where we were wont 
to stand silent beside one especial spot, 
whilst the sunbeams flitted in and out, 



OUR VISITOR. ni 



playing at hide-and-seek amongst the 
graves. 

When we got home again, we dined, and 
then our servant donned her best apparel, 
and went to afternoon service. 

E-egularly when the door banged after 
her, my grandmother was wont to place an 
immense family Bible on a little table 
drawn close up to the window, and she read 
the large print till she fell asleep ; whilst I 
amused myself with the few books our 
shelves boasted that could be considered 
proper reading for Sunday. 

How vividly I remember those well- 
thumbed volumes, in which, on the merest 
threads of a story, pearls of religious in- 
struction were strung ! Mary and her 
Mamma was the title of one of them ; and 
if Mary only got one half so tired of her 
parent as I did, she must indeed have been 
delighted at the prospect of entermg 
woman's estate. I liked some accounts of 
missionary work the best. In those books 



174 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

there was at all events some variety, some 
movement, some change of scene and 
people ; but in Mary, when the mamma 
said, " I intend to walk across to Moor 
Edge, and call uj^on kind Mrs. Dorcas ; 
would my little daughter like to accompany 
me ?" I always knew a sermon was im- 
pending. There was a deliberate deceitfal- 
ness in those books which filled me with a 
profound despair. 

It was like never having any jam that 
had not a pill or a powder lurkmg amid the 
sweetness. What a relief it used to be 
when my grandmother's eyes were fairly 
closed, and the large spectacles covered 
shut lids ! 

Noiselessly at that juncture I was wont 
to leave the apartment, and seek amuse- 
ment, if it were fine, out of doors ; if it 
were wet, in turning over my few quasi- 
possessions in the tiny room appropriated 
to my use. 

Later on, when Hannah returned, we 



OUR VISITOR. 175 



had tea ; and after tea I read aloud the 
Pilgrim! s Progress, or that other progress 
of Christian's wife, which always seemed to 
me more charming than his own. Real to 
my imagination were the Slough of Despond, 
the path beset with dangers, the key 
which gave liberty to the captives m 
Doubting Castle, the wicked city where 
Faithful was put to death, the arbour 
where Christian lost his roll, the river broad 
and deep, and the city higher than the 
clouds, which, hke Bunyan, I wished to 
enter, that I too might behold the streets 
paved with gold, and the men with crowns 
on their heads, palms in their hands, and 
golden harps, to sing praises withal, that 
walked therein, 

I did not in the least comprehend in 
those days the true meaning of the tale. 
It seemed to me a real account of travels 
imdertaken by real men, women, and chil- 
dren, who, after passing through great 
dangers, enduring much trouble, surmount- 



176 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

ing many obstacles, entered at last into a 
sort of fairyland such as was depicted in 
the story-books I at that time loved. 

It is well, perhaps, to read Bunyan after 
this fashion when a child, since it invests 
rehgion with a certain " glamour," if the 
word be not profane, that it is impossible 
to throw over the subject at a later 
period. 

For example, although my grandmother 
looked upon Bunyan's Pilgrim with a sort 
of devout awe only second to that with 
which she regarded the Holy Scriptures, 
nevertheless she went to sleep over the 
narration I regarded as so full of interest. 
To her the Progress was merely a good 
book ; to me it was a story full of incident 
and excitement — a story so full, indeed, 
that I should frequently have indulged 
myself with a private perusal, had not such 
a liberty been tacitly forbidden by the fact 
of the volume being kept on the topmost 
shelf of a very inaccessible cupboard. 



OUR VISITOR. 177 



By some accident the Pilgrim had 
become possessed of a very handsome 
binding ; and when we brought him down 
on Sundays, we were careful to keep the 
grey hnen in which his morocco binding 
was swathed close round the book, lest a 
chance touch should damage the outer 
garment, that my grandmother considered 
as second only in importance to that in 
which he was clothed in a better world at 
the end of his journey. 

Worn and frayed is that binding now ; 
the leather has lost the glory of its first 
youth, the gilding is tarnished, the pages 
are discoloured ; but the story the text tells 
is dear to me as it was when I sat in our 
little parlour and read that ever-new tale 
aloud. 

An uneventful life to chronicle, an exis- 
tence almost devoid of incident, and yet 
perhaps for that reason the few events that 
occurred seemed very remarkable and very 
grateful to our monotonous experience. 

VOL. I. 12 



178 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Our mental appetites had never been 
surfeited witli a perpetual feast of exciting 
surprises. To us the daily gossip, the 
latest scandal, the visits, the letters, and 
the news of ordinary society were as foreigTi 
as rich soups, made dishes, curious pud- 
dings, and French confectionery on our 
dinner-table ; and accordingly, when a 
honne houclie did come in our way, we made 
the most of it. We turned an incident, as 
the old dissenting minister is reported to 
have turned Ephraim, inside out, upside 
down, round and about ; but it was gene- 
rally a long period before we followed the 
preacher's final example, and tiu-ned our 
subject, as he did Ephraim, about his 
business. 

My short youth is a wonderful period 
now to look back upon. Counted by years, 
I know it was brief indeed ; and yet to my 
memory that time of sweet repose, of 
dreamy idleness, of happy innocence, 
lengtliens itself out to a century at least. 



OUR VISITOR. 179 



What is twelve months of life, when life 
begins to seem precious to us — a thing 
desirable to have and to hold. 

The days from Christmas to Christmas I 
feel now able to clasp in my hand. Spring 
is but a whiff of hawthorn-blossoms passed 
under my nostrils, and then fading away 
to make room for the roses of summer. 
And what are they to me 1 In comparison 
to the rose-days of my childhood, they 
seem but a momentary blaze of beauty. 

What are the fruits of autumn — the 
gorgeous tints with which she paints each 
leaf and berry ? Alas, alas ! when we have 
sat at Nature's table month after month 
and year after year, one cannot bring to 
the feast that keen enjoyment which gave 
such a relish to existence when all the 
world was young, when others took all the 
care and trouble and anxiety on their 
shoulders, and worldly sorrows were as un- 
known to the little ones as worldly hopes. 

So far my life had been tranquil as the 

12—2 



180 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

quiet beauty of Lovedale ; but a change — 
not a sharp or painful change, albeit it was 
unexpected — chanced to be close at hand. 

How well I remember each trifling detail 
of that Sunday afternoon when it came ! 
We were sitting, after our usual fashion, in 
a little room that commanded a view of the 
Great House. Close drawn up to the 
window were chair and table for my grand- 
mother's special benefit. The hearth was 
swept clean ; for although the sun shone 
brightly out of doors, still within, the 
weather was cliilly, and a fire acceptable. 
On a footstool beside the old-fashioned 
brass fender, which it almost scorched my 
hand to touch, I sat reading, longing all 
the while to be out under the golden-pippin 
tree, where I was well aware there were 
plenty of apples to be had for the trouble 
of picking them from the ground. 

But my grandmcther kept obstinately 
awake, and her prejudices were against 
wandering about the garden and eating 



OUR VISITOR. 181 



fruit in the open air on Sundays. So, 
forced to bide my time, I remained quiet. 

Once more I look round that silent room. 
There is the old harpsichord ; above it 
hangs my mother's portrait. Large oil 
paintings by my father ornament the walls. 
There are dark oaken chairs, with quaint 
backs, and ornamented with much carving. 
There are shells from foreign shores ; there 
are feather fans made by Indians ; ivory 
trifles, brought no doubt by some sailor 
relative from China. 

The history of those nicknacks — so alien 
to the modes and habits of the Motfields — 
which came from the cottage where my 
father died, I shall never know. For me 
they had always a singular fascination, and 
on that special afternoon, wearied of read- 
ing, I turned and contemplated with a new 
interest the curious but by no means 
valuable contents of our room. 

How long I had sat there, weaving fan- 
tastic histories out of shells, fans, and 



182 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

pagodas, I cannot tell, when my grand- 
mother's voice roused me from, my dream. 

" Annie, Annie, make haste !" she ex- 
claimed, speaking quickly and suddenly. 
" Who is tliis coming here ? Lor' o' mercy, 
girl, it is Miss Cleeves ! Whatever can she 
want T 

As to what Miss Cleeves might or might 
not want, that young lady left me no time 
to speculate ; for even before my grand- 
mother had finished speaking, a prolonged 
knock echoed through our tiny house — a 
knock suflScient, so it seemed to me, who 
had never heard the like before, to bring 
the small tenement about our ears. 

" Shall I go to the door T I asked, turn- 
ing cold and hot in the same second. 

" Of course. We must not keep the 
yoimg lady waiting." 

And it was as well we did not ; for 
before I could reach the door, she had her 
hand on the knocker again. 

" Oh, there you are !" was her greeting. 



OUR VISITOR. 183 



'*I thought you were all asleep. People 
do sleep at all sorts of times in the country. 
I should, if I lived in the country alto- 
gether. May I come in ? If I may, don't 
stand looking at me as if I were an ap- 
parition. If I may not, be good enough to 
say so." 

I opened the door wide, and she accepted 
that act as invitation to enter. Happily 
she could see the parlour, and my grand- 
mother sitting there, the moment she set 
foot inside our habitation, or I do not know 
how I should ever have asked her to walk 
in. 

As it happened, she stepped briskly 
forward and greeted my grandmother, who 
rose from her seat as she advanced. 

" You are Mrs. Motfield, I suppose," said 
Miss Cleeves, holding out her hand, which 
my grandmother took as if she did not 
know what to do with it. "I want 
you to let Annie come out with me for a 
little while. She would, perhaps, like to 



184 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

see the gardens at the Great House, and 
there are none of the men about on Sundays 
— not at this hour. May she come ?" 

I looked at my grandmother — she was, 
I knew, full of objections ; she was con- 
sidering how she should state them. If 
Miss Cleeves had given her time, I should 
never have seen those wonderful gardens ; 
but Miss Cleeves did not give her time. 
Miss Cleeves repeated her request before 
my grandmother had, figuratively speak- 
ing, drawn her breath. 

" I do not know. Miss Cleeves, what to 
say," she hesitated. " Would your — would 
the Misses Wifibrde " 

The woman who deliberates is lost. My 
grandmother had dehberated, and was 
lost. 

"Would my respected relatives object to my 
taking a Sunday walk ' abroad with Sally ?'" 
interrupted Miss Cleeves. " Certainly not. 
They are darling old souls ; but if they 
began to object to my doings, I should pretty 



OUR VISITOR. 18 J 



soon leave them and return to my mother, 
who is not a darhng at all. Now, Miss 
Annie, if you mean to come with me, run 
upstairs and put on your bonnet, and let 
us be off. Oh, you are not sure whether 
you may or may not ! She may, madam, 
is it not so ?" 

She had all the assurance of fifty years 
of age, and, when she chose to assume 
them, the grand airs of the ancienne noblesse. 
That last clause in her sentence, and the 
tone in which it was uttered, settled the 
matter, and enabled us both to understand 
the nature of the dominion she exercised 
over our ladies at the Great House. 

" You can go, Annie, if — if — you would 
like to do so," said my grandmother, look- 
ing at me piteously ; but I was too young 
to take up the weapons she laid down with 
much success. 

" You will want me at home, grannie," 
I answered. I could not now put my own 
desires so far out of sight as I did in that 



186 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

sentence ; but then I was under subjection, 
which, perhaps, detracts from the merit of 
my self-denial. 

" What a simpleton you are !" exclaimed 
Miss Cleeves, without giving my grand- 
mother time to answer, " I know you 
want to come mth me, and you know I 
want you to come with me, and you know 
Mrs. Motfield is not afraid of my eating you 
up ; therefore why will you not put on your 
bonnet at once ? She may put it on with- 
out any fear of a scolding afterwards T 
This to my grandmother. 

" I suppose so. I never scold Annie," 
was the reply. 

" Perhaps Annie is so good a little girl 
as never to require a scolding," was the 
reply, which made me fire up in defence of 
my dearest friend. 

" I am not good. Miss Cleeves," I ex- 
claimed, " but grannie is, and she does not 
scold." 

" What a charming grandmother 1" an- 



OUR VISITOR. 187 



swered our visitor. " What a delightful 
thing it must be where no one says a cross 
word to anybody ! Now, child, are you 
going to keep me waiting all day, or will 
you put on your bonnet at once T 

" You are very kind, miss," began my 
grandmother, as I well knew, in respectful 
expostulation ; but Miss Cleeves gave her 
no time to finish her sentence. 

" I am not kind at all. I came here to 
please myself, and I want to take Annie 
over the grounds to please myself also. It 
is frightfully dull up at the house, and she 
amuses me." 

This was a light in which I had cer- 
tainly never expected to find the matter 
placed, but it chanced to be the very one 
most calculated to win my grandmother's 
consent. 

" You had better not keep Miss Cleeves 
waiting, dear," she said, quietly ; and look- 
ing at her in astonishment, I saw at once 
she had taken up my former impression. 



188 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

and thought the intellect of Miss Wifforde's 
relative was affected. " Will you take a 
seat, miss T she asked. 

The last sentence I heard my new ac- 
quaintance utter as I left the room was, 
" No, thank you ; I hate sitting. How 
people can remain glued to a chair for hours 
together, I cannot imagine." 

During the short time I was absent, she 
contrived to take a correct mental inven- 
tory of our furniture and other eflPects. 
She criticised the pictures ; she was good 
enough to admire some of our ornaments ; 
she would have opened and tried the spinet, 
had not she been mildly reminded that it 
chanced to be Sunday ; she looked at the 
views from the window ; and having finally 
exhausted our interior, was about to make 
her way out into the garden, when I made 
my appearance. 

" What a time you have been !" was her 
remark, " I could have put on fifty bonnets 
since you went upstairs. Now bid your 



OUR VISITOR. 189 



grandmother good-bye, for perhaps I shall 
never let you come back to her again." 
After which speech she took me by the 
hand, just as though I was only about six 
years old, and in this manner conducted 
me to the entrance gates of that domain it 
had been my habit, almost from infancy, to 
regard with a kind of holy awe. 






CHAPTER XL 

I AM DECEIVED. 

IAD Miss Cleeves given me time to 
enjoy myself, that Siuiday after- 
noon's walk through those lovely 
grounds would have been one of the happiest 
of my life ; but she hurried me so fast from 
lawns to gardens, from gardens to park, 
from aviary to lake, from summer-house to 
waterfall, that I could only carry back to 
our cottage a confused memory of trees and 
turf, and parterres filled with exquisite 
flowers ; of an all-pervading scent of helio- 
trope ; of hot-houses, where hundreds of 
bunches of grapes hung from the roof, while 
peaches clustered tliick on the trelHs-work 
at the back. 

She took me into the conservatory, where 



/ AM DECEIVED. 191 

there was not a plant I had ever seen be- 
fore ; she dragged me away almost by force 
from an entranced contemplation of silver 
and gold pheasants ; she scarcely permitted 
a moment to be employed in viewing the 
swans. Only once did she allow a decided 
halt, and that was under a mnlberry-tree. 
There in an incredibly short space of tune 
she ate about a pint of the fruit, and came 
away with her hands dyed violet, and her 
dress stained in several places with the 
juice. 

" Lucky it is not a silk," she remarked, 
when I drew her attention to this fact. 
" Aunt said this morning it was getting too 
chilly for muslins ; but I carried my point. 
I detest silk dresses ; don't you V 

My experience of them having been 
limited, I was unable to give a satisfactory 
answer. 

" I like dresses," proceeded Miss Cleeves, 
" that wash, and are clean agam. What is 
the good of being m the country if one has 



192 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

to be got up perpetually like a stiff-starclied 
frill ? It is very well for old ladies, who 
do not want to run about and enjoy them- 
selves, to be arrayed in all sorts of magnifi- 
cence ; but I cannot see why young people 
should be victimized with fine clothes ; can 
you T 

My Sunday apparel having been always a 
trouble to me, I could agree with her on 
this point, and felt glad to do so. 

" You must find it very dull living all 
alone with your grandmother, and never 
having a young person to speak to," she said 
after a pause. 

" I do not care much for young persons," 
I answered ; " the few I have known never 
made themselves particularly pleasant to 
me. 

" Present company of course excepted," 
she said. 

" Yes," was my reply ; "I like the little 
I have seen of you very well." 

" Very weU, mdeed !" she repeated, laugh- 



/ AM DECEIVED. 193 

ing. '' There is an ungrateful wi'etch, after 
all the trouble I have taken on your behalf. 
The least you might have said was that you 
liked me very much." 

"But, Miss Cleeves," I expostulated, "you 
told my grandmother you did not take all 
that trouble to please me, but to please and 
amuse yourself" 

" Ah, that was only my amiable way of 
putting it," she remarked, carelessly. 
" When you are as old as I am, you will 
not think of takmg everything au pied 
de la lettrer 

" What does that mean ?" I inquu^ed, 

"Why, you little dunce, do you not 
understand half a dozen words of the 
simplest French ?" 

I felt my face burn and my eyes fill with 
tears at her insolence, but I answered 
bravely enough — 

" What chance have I ever had of learn- 
ing anything ?" 

For a moment she remained silent, then 
VOL. I. 13 



194 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

giving my hand a swing backwards and 
forwards, she said — 

" That was a very rude speech of mine, 
and I beg your pardon, I am sorry to 
have vexed you." 

" You did not vex me — much," was my 
answer ; " but I have often and often 
wished I knew more." 

" Yes," she rephed, and walked on with- 
out speaking for a little time. Then she 
turned to me abruptly, and began, " What 
does yoiu" grandmother intend to do with 

9" 

you ^ 

" She does not intend to do anything 
with me that I know of." 

" Does she not mean to have you pro- 
perly educated ?" 

" She thinks I have learned all it is 
necessary for a girl in my station to under- 
stand." 

"And what is that 'all,' if I may in- 
qurre { 

" I can read, and write, and do accounts ; 



/ AM DECEIVED. 195 

I can sew pretty well, and could knit 
stockings, only grannie likes best to knit 
them herself; I am able to make bread, 
and butter. I do not think I have learned 
anythmg else." 

" And I suppose ultimately your grand- 
mother will want you to marry some re- 
spectable young man whose dairy you can 
look after, besides attending to his comfort 
and welfare generally." 

" I have not heard grannie say anything 
about it ; but I am sure she would be 
vexed if I ever married a man who was not 
respectable." 

" What a funny child you are !" ex- 
claimed Miss Cleeves ; "funny old-fashioned 
little monkey ! It is a blessing people are 
so differently constituted. Had I your 
voice, not all the grandmothers, mothers, 
and aunts in England should keep me in 
Lovedale an hour. I would go and make 
my way in the world, ay, even if I had to 
sing about the streets, till somebody re- 

13—2 



196 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

cognised my gift and took me by the 
hand." 

" Hush, hush !" I cried, for her vehe- 
mence frightened me. " What can you want 
more than you have now T 

" What have I ?" she asked. 

" All these beautiful gardens, all this 
lovely place. You have a grand house, you 
have carriages and horses." 

" They are not mine," she said, sullenly. 

" They are as good as yours," I an- 
swered, with for me considerable spirit, as 
I considered she was underrating her ad- 
vantages and depreciating the Misses Wif- 
forde's kindness. " They are as good as 
yours. This place is as much your home 
as our httle cottage is mine. You can 
walk about and pull the flowers, and eat 
the fruit, just as I do, and some day you 
will marry Mr. Sylvester and be mistress 
here." 

" Yes, that is the programme," she ob- 
served. 



/ AM DECEIVED. 197 

" And you will be quite happy, then." 

" Assuredly," she agreed, with a covert 
smile wliich belied her words. " When I 
am married to Sylvester, and when I am 
mistress here, I shall be quite happy, no 
doubt." 

" You puzzle me," I said. 

" How shocking, how sinful to puzzle 
that dear wise httle head of yours ! I be- 
lieve one of my earhest exploits was crying 
for the moon — in some shape or other I 
have been crying for the moon ever since," 

" But what is the good of cryhig, if 
crymg wont get a thing T 

"My mother would tell you But 

there, let us talk about something else. 
Come into the house, I want to show you 
my piano." 

At this suggestion I drew back appalled. 
With much fear and trembling I had al- 
ready followed her amongst many head of 
homed cattle ; I had been knocked down 
by a huge dog ; I had even ventiu^ed after 



198 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

my guide into the stables, and accepted 
lier peremptory invitation to enter the 
loose stall tenanted by Mr. Sylvester's 
favourite horse. 

" They are all as quiet as kittens," ex- 
plained Miss Cleeves ; " indeed, the car- 
riage horses have no more spirit than old 
cats ;" and by these and other assurances 
she had seduced me into dangerous proxi- 
mity with creatures that had hind legs and 
stood seventeen hands high. But follow 
my leader any farther, I dared not. 

Lured on by a certain fascination I had, 
with a shrinking trepidation, allowed my- 
self to be led into the stable-yard, from 
which I could see many windows that 
looked out from the back of the Great 
House ; but the thought of entermg the 
house itself appalled me. 

What if Miss Wifforde saw a stranger 
within her gates ? what if already she had 
seen me ? As the idea occurred, I tried to 
pull my hand away, with some dim idea of 



I AM DECEIVED. 199 

rushing off into the pine wood and secret- 
ing myself there. We were under the 
shadow of the pine branches when Miss 
Cleeves made her suggestion, and escape 
at the moment seemed easy and desirable. 
But my companion was stronger than I. 

" No, my dear," she said, tightening her 
hold ; " you are my prisoner, and I shall 
not let you away till it suits my sovereign 
will and pleasure ; you remember I told 
your grandmother that possibly she might 
never see you again. There is a place for 
hangmg up dresses m my bedroom as large 
as E-ed Kover's box ; I think I shall shut 
you up there, so that I ca,n lay my hand on 
you whenever I want some one to talk 
to." 

I was not afraid of being locked up, but 
I was afraid of meeting any person. 

How I besought the girl to let me go ! 
how, even with tears, I begged and prayed 
of her to release me I But she only laughed 
at my entreaties ; and when at length I 



200 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

threw myself on my knees before her, she 
laughed still louder. 

The advantage was all on her side. She 
was not merely older and stronger than I, 
but she was a vixen in her strength. She 
did not care whether she hurt me or not ; 
I dared not have hurt Miss Cleeves. 

" You horrid obstmate little wretch," slie 
cried, her eyes sparkling with fury ; "I 
wonder at your presuming to set up your 
will against mine. Will you come mto the 
liouse this moment, as I desire you ? I 
shall beat you if you try my temper any 
longer. And besides, what is the use of 
your struggling ? You know if you kicked, 
or scratched, or bit me, I could have you 
sent to prison, and fed on bread and 
water. You are a nasty ungrateful little 
thing ; I wanted to be friends with you, 
and this is the way in which I am treated 
in return." 

Bhnded with tears and fairly conquered, 
I listened to this graphic resume of my sins. 



/ AM DECEIVED. 201 

and then endeavoured to eftect a compro- 
mise. 

Would she promise to let me leave the 
instant I had seen her piano ? Woidd she 
insure that I should not meet her aunts or 
Miss Hunter, or anybody '? Would she 
allow me to run home by myself through 
the dusk fast, because my grandmother 
must be getting uneasy ? 

All this I asked, and to all of it she 
rephed — No ! She refused to promise any- 
thing but this — that if I would not do 
what she asked, she would never forgive 
me ; she would never speak to me while 
she lived again. 

" And I will teU my aunts what a wicked 
girl you are, and they will not let you stay 
in their cottage," she finished ; and then, 
when I reluctantly agreed to accompany 
her, she broke into a peal of laughter, and 
said — 

" What a goose you are !" 

It was therefore by reason of gross in- 



202 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

timidation that I entered tlie Great House. 
To my intense relief the front door stood 
open, and we entered and passed through 
the hall, which was unlighted, without 
meeting any servant. Miss Cleeves, still 
suspiciously keeping hold of my wrist (it 
was black and swollen for a fortnight after- 
wards), led the way up four steps, broad 
and easy, then along a wide corridor, at 
the extreme end of which she opened a 
door, and signing me to enter, I stood next 
moment in the presence of Miss Laura and 
Miss Dorothea Wifforde. 

Consider my feelings. Never had I been 
so terrified before ; not even when at St. 
Stephen's I had crept one Saturday evening 
into the dark church to listen to a rehearsal 
which was being held by the light of dips 
in the organ-loft, the form that I intended 
to sit down upon tipped over with a noise 
sufiicient to bring organist and chok to a 
standstill, and to cause me to flee out into 
the graveyard as though a thousand ghosts 



/ AM DECEIVED. 203 

were iii hot pursuit. Never before — not 
when Mrs. Isaac Motfield opened her vials 
of wrath, and poured them over my devoted 
head — had fear taken such absolute posses- 
sion of me, body and soul. No street Arab 
suddenly dragged from his accustomed 
gutter, and accorded the unwished-for 
honour of an interview with his temporal 
lord — the lord of a year — could have ex- 
perienced one-half the agony that fell to 
my lot when introduced by that faithless 
and perverse girl into such high and mighty 
company. 

There, at the entrance of a large room — 
a room so large indeed that to look down it 
seemed to me hke looking down the main 
aisle of St, Stephen's — lighted, and that 
only dimly, by a smouldermg wood fire, 
stood I, Annie Trenet, with Miss Cleeves, a 
heavy oaken door possessed of an immense 
handle, a long corridor, four steps, a wide 
hall, another door which my companion had 
closed on her entrance, more steps, an 



204 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

avenue apparently interminable, and the 
lodge gates, between me and liberty. 

At the other end of the room sat the 
Misses Wifibrde and Mr. Sylvester. On a 
table beside Miss Laura stood a hissing 
urn. They were not prepared for or ex- 
pecting visitors even in their own rank of 
life. I knew how solemn a matter the 
entertainment of an invited guest was in 
our humble home, how utter the dismay 
when an uninvited one appeared at our 
doors. The solemnity and the dismay I 
mentally intensified after the fashion of a 
rule of three. 

Given that the arrival of an unwished - 
for visitor caused a certain amount of an 
noyance and confusion in the Motfield 
household, what would it do in the Wif- 
forde ? 

Never before did I cast out a sum so 
rapidly ; and the result was — led on and 
deluded by Miss Cleeves, I had sinned past 
hope of pardon. 



/ AM DECEIVED. 205 

Too young still to find relief in strong 
phrases, I did not even whisper to myself, 
" God forgive her, for I cannot ;" but I 
know I felt some sentence of that sort. 

Here will the reader pardon a digres- 
sion ? Since I have arrived at years of 
discretion, the conclusion has been forced 
upon me, that when the period of strong 
feehng is well-nigh ended, that of strong 
expression commences ; once we begin the 
tragedy of words, the tragedy of sensation 
must be a story of old. Which all, no 
doubt, will seem like nonsense-writing, for 
so quiet a tale as that of my poor life. 
But everything is comparative ; and from 
my youth upwards the Misses Wiiforde had 
bounded the limits of my social horizon, 
therefore the bating of breath and the 
quickening of pulse that occurred at the 
moment may perhaps be imperfectly under- 
stood, can certainly not be described. 

It may be thought that, spite of doors 
and corridor, I might have fled even then. 



206 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

But to me flight was impossible ; I stood 
rooted to the carpet, wliilst I heard, as in 
a dream, a voice asking — 

" Where have you been, Lizzie % Syl- 
vester went every place he could think of 
to look for you, but without success." 

"It is a great pity Sylvester gave himself 
so much trouble," answered Miss Cleeves, 
advancing towards the fireplace, and pulling 
me after her ; "he knows perfectly well I 
am not at all likely to tumble into the lake 
or the deep pool, and that is about the 
only sort of accident that could possibly 
occur in such benighted regions as these. 
I have passed a very profitable and pleasant 
afternoon in showing Miss Trenet (Miss 
Wifforde, Miss Trenet — general mtroduc- 
tion considered as effected) the gardens and 
domain of the Great House. Miss Trenet 
is much impressed by the beauty and gran- 
deur of the Wifforde estate, and considers 
that ' of such is \hQ kmgdom of heaven.' " 

The fire was low, and Miss Wifforde 



/ AAf DECEIVED. 207 

short-sighted, therefore she had not the 
shghtest chance of recog'nising me, even 
supposing she had in her drives to and fro 
chanced to become aware of the fact of my 
existence. 

"How do you do, my dear'?" she said 
therefore in the kindest manner imaoinable, 
extending her hand as she spoke. " I can- 
not at the moment recall to my mind where 
I have heard the name of Trenet before, 
but it sounds famihar. I hope your grand- 
mamma's rheumatism is better." 

" Thank you, ma'am," I answered, per- 
fectly bewildered at this reception, " she is 
pretty well." 

" I am glad to hear that," was the reply. 
" I feared from your grandpapa's manner 
this morning that it was rather a serious 
attack." 

" Gracious goodness, aunt !" here inter- 
posed Miss Cleeves, " you do not suppose, 
surely, I should have devoted a whole 
afternoon to that horrid little ghi the 



208 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Rawlings have imported. This creature is 
a discovery and possession of my own. I 
have stolen her as the fairies steal babies. 
She is nobody's child ; and she hves no- 
where in particular, unless it may be in the 
middle of the Love, where I made her 
acquaintance, singing like one of those in- 
sufficiently clothed young women who have 
no wardrobe to speak of, exceptmg a shock 
of hau' and a looking-glass." 

" Elizabeth !" exclaimed Miss Laura, in 
a tone of expostulation. 

" Miss Laura Wifforde, my dear aunt, 
will you kindly pour out a cup of tea for 
this orphan child, whom I have adopted T 
was all the notice that dreadful Miss Cleeves 
took of the implied reproof 

But matters had now come to a pass 
when I felt I must speak. 

" I am very much obliged," I began — 
and my voice shook so painfully, that I had 
to jerk the words out, throwing each one 
singly, as it were, at my listeners ; " but I 



/ AM DECEIVED. 209 

would rather not have any tea, thank you — 
and oh, if you would let me go back to my 
grandmother ! She will think I am lost ; 
she will be so vexed at my having dared to 
come here." 

" I declare, Annie Trenet, you are enough 
to provoke a saint !" cried out Miss Cleeves, 
before any one else could speak. '' Every- 
thing was going on so beautifully ; and you 
have spoilt it all. See if I ever take any 
more trouble for you again. You may stay 
at home for ever, and never see anything 
worth seeing, or hear anything worth hear- 
ing, for aught I care ;" and Miss Cleeves was 
turning from me with an expression of anger 
and disdain when Miss Wifforde interposed 
her authority. 

" Lizzie," she began — and by the flame 
that was licking its way round a log Mr. 
Sylvester had thrown on the fire, I could 
see she looked pained and angry — " in this 
house you shall pay some regard to the most 
ordinary rules of courtesy. Whoever this 

VOL. I. 14 



210 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

young lady may be, you have most grie- 
vously hurt her feelings " 

" And she has hurt mine 1" interrupted 
Miss Cleeves. " I wanted to be friends with 
her, and she would not let me." 

" Oh, Miss Cleeves, how can you say so V 
I cried out. " You did show me beautiful 
things to-day, and I shall never forget them ; 
and I am gratefol. But — but — if I might 
only go home, ma'am " — this to Miss 
Wifforde, m utter despair of being able 
to finish my sentence as I had intended. 

" Certainly, my dear, you shall go home," 
answered Miss Wifforde, kindly ; " but first 
have a cup of tea and piece of cake, and 
then, if you will tell us where you Hve, 
some one shall return you safely to your 
grandmother." 

*' I can go home alone quite well, thank 
you," I said ; " and I would rather not have 
any tea, please." 

" What a strange girl !" remarked Miss 
Laura Wifforde, whilst Mr. Sylvester, look- 



/ AM DECEIVED. 211 

ing on, said notMng, but glanced towards 
Mlss Cleeves ; and, as if in answer to that 
glance^ she came across to the spot where 
I was standing with Miss Wifforde, who 
was standing also, looking down upon me 
in puzzled silence. 

" Little Trenet," she began, " I have 
been very rude to you, and I am sorry for 
it. Let us kiss, and be friends ;" and she 
suited the action to the words. " Here is 
a seat ; take your tea, and I will tell my 
aunts all about it. One morning last week," 
continued Miss Cleeves, leaning on the back 
of an easy-chair she had pushed me into, 
and addressing her audience over my head, 
" while the other members of this household 
were wrapped in slumber — the servants 
here, I may remark, do not rise with the 
lark — I walked down to the river, expect- 
ing to find that pleasing stream as quiet 
and commonplace as ever. To my astonish- 
ment, however, as I neared its bank, I 
heard some one smging — not a subdued 

14—2 



212 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

song, not after tlie fashion in wliicli one 
generally hears words and music alike mur- 
dered, but out loud and clear, like a lark, 
or a prima donna, or a street crier, if you 
like that comparison better. My river 
nymph was seated on a stone in the middle 
of the stream, which rippled an accompani- 
ment to her melody ; and the ballad she 
had selected, and which she sang a la 
Madame Serlini, with long-drawn pauses 
and other thrilling efiPects, was ' Home, 
Sweet Home.' Although I did not in the 
least believe her to be anything but a spirit, 
I considered it my duty to applaud." 

" Dear Lizzie," said Miss Laura, inter- 
rupting, " do get on with your story a little 
faster." 

" I must either tell my story my own 
way, or not at all," answered Miss 
Cleeves. 

" Could you not give us the outline first, 
and fill in the details afterwards V inquired 
Mr. Sylvester. 



/ AAf DECEIVED. 



" No, I could not. Shall I proceed, or 
shall I for ever after hold my tongue T 

" Proceed, by all means," decided Miss 
Wifforde, and Miss Cleeves triumphantly re- 
sumed her narrative. 

"Where was I when you. Aunt Laura, 
interrupted the flow of my discourse \ — Oh, 
clapping my hands and shouting brava so 
enthusiastically that my songstress jumped 
up, frightened apparently out of whatever 
amount of senses she possessed ; I then re- 
cognised her as the impressionable small 
person who had wept so bitterly — why it is 
not for me to pretend to guess — when // 
Barbiere was performed at Fairport. 

" Of course I immediately inquired how 
it happened she had been transported from 
the stage-box in Fairport theatre to a great 
stone in the middle of the Love ; where- 
upon she favoured me with various domestic 
particulars, stating, amongst other matters, 
that she was an orphan, the daughter of an 
artist, and that she lived in a white cot- 



214 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

tage down yonder with her grandmother, 
all of which, being interpreted, means that 
my nymph, when in the flesh and not in 
the spirit, takes up her abode in a certain 
picturesque dwelling on the way between 
here and Lovedale, owned by the Misses 
WifForde, and tenanted by Mrs. Motfield." 

" So, then," exclaimed Miss Wiflbrde, in 
the same kindly tones as before, only frosted 
— with the same amount of cordiality, only 
iced — " you are old Mrs. Motfield's grand- 
daughter ? I hope you will be a good girl, 
and try to prove a comfort to her ; for she 
has known much sorrow." 

How glad I was I had not tasted their 
tea or touched even a crumb of their 
cake ! 

Somehow, the fact of my abstinence en- 
abled me to answer with more sphit than 
I had yet displayed, that " my grandmother 
often said she did not know what she should 
do without me." 

" An observation which, incredible as it 



/ AM DECEIVED. 215 

may seem, I can vouch to be accurately re- 
ported," said Miss Cleeves. " Mrs. Motfield 
really cherishes the most touching faith in 
her grandchild's goodness ; but you have 
not allowed me to complete my story." 

" I think it is unnecessary for you to con- 
tinue it," remarked Miss Wifforde. " We 
understand now who this — who Miss Trenet 
is ; and if she will finish her tea, Thomas 
shall walk home with her, as no doubt 
Mrs. Motfield must feel uneasy at her ab- 
sence." 

" No doubt Mrs. Motfield feels perfectly 
easy in the matter," retorted Miss Cleeves. 
" I told her, as plainly as I could speak, 
that she need not be afraid of my eating 
Annie up. She knows the girl is quite safe 
with me." 

" Nevertheless, my dear, as it is getting 
very dark, and as Mrs. Motfield probably 
keeps early hours, I thiixk that if Miss 
Trenet " 

" I will not have any tea, thank you," I 



216 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

said decidedly, interrupting the inevitable 
finisli of her sentence I foresaw ; " and I 
do not want any one to go home with me, 
please ; and I am very much obhged for 
your kindness. Miss Cleeves ; and — and 

good evening, ma'am," I concluded, hurriedly, 
wondering how I was ever to reach the end 
of that immense room — walk all over those 
intermediate yards of carpeting by my- 
self 

" I am going to Mr. Rawlings," remarked 
Mr. Sylvester, quietly, " and will see that 
no harm reaches tliis young lady between 
here and the cottage, which I know by sight 
perfectly well." 

" I will go with you to the parsonage," 
cried out Miss Cleeves. 

" You have had quite walking enough to- 
day, Lizzie," suggested Miss Laura. 

" Not one-half enough," she replied. 

" I would much rather you remained 
quietly at home," remarked Mr. Sylvester, 
with charmingf candour. 



/ AM DECEIVED. 217 

" I know you would, and for that very 
reason I intend to walk unquietly abroad. 
Besides, I promised to return this lamb safe 
into the Motfield fold. Come, little Trenet ; 
we will run all the way down the hill, and 
make Sylvester angry, if you like." 

That was a mode of spending a Sunday 
evening to suggest under the very noses 
of the Misses Wifforde ; and as they stood, 
with those noses rather uplifted in the air, 
too proud to wrangle with their relative, too 
proud even to interpose their authority 
before a stranger, I could not help feelmg 
thankful that my lot had been cast in a 
cottage instead of in that unmense house 
with those stately ladies, who looked as 
though they never could have been young, 
for guardians. 

They were, however, too genuinely, after 
thek fashion, gentlewomen not to endeavour, 
though vainly, to set me at my ease ere 
I departed from the Great House. 

Of mine own accord I should never have 



218 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

ventured a more familiar leave-taking than 
that previously recorded ; but Miss Wiffbrde 
held out her hand, on the fingers of wliich 
diamonds glittered, and retained mine a 
moment while she said, " Tell Mrs. Mot- 
field I believe her grandchild to be a good 
and modest girl." 

While Miss Laura added, " I am sorry 
your feelings should have been wounded in 
this house, and that you would not take 
your tea." 

Oh, that tea I But they meant it all 
kindly, those stately old ladies. They 
were very good to me, considering the 
circumstances under which I made their 
acquaintance. 

Imagine, if you can {you being a humble 
member of the middle classes of society), 
a madcap young princess seducing you into 
the innermost sanctum of Windsor Castle, 
upon the privacy of her most gracious 
majesty Queen Victoria. 

Whether the deed be possible or not, 



/ AM DECEIVED. 219 

my limited knowledge of such establish- 
ments does not enable me to decide. The 
reader is only requested to imagine such a 
catastrophe. 

For my owti part, kings and queens, 
emperors and empresses, were vagTie and 
impalpable powers, when compared with 
our ladies of the Great House. 

Always in the future, when I heard that 
passage read in the Scriptures concerning 
those who were supposed to be drunk with 
new wine, I imagmed they must have 
looked and felt as I did when, having 
just crossed the threshold of another life, 
I lifted my feet hurriedly from the steps, 
and thankfully retraced my way, still 
dizzy, still like one in a dream, to my 
humble home, which I fancied m my 
ignorance, I should never wish to leave 
again. 



CHAPTER XII. 

MISS CLEEVES' OPINIONS. 




IL," began Miss Cleeves, when we 
were clear of the house, " did 
not the old ladies act ' more poker' 
splendidly this evening ?" 

" I wish you would not ridicule them, 
Lizzie," he replied; "you know I cannot 
bear to hear you." 

" True, and I ought not to annoy you ; but 
still, you must admit their backbones have 
been gradually stiffenmg into iron for m- 
numerable centuries. Iron is not iron, but 
something else, in the first instance ; and 
they, so long in process of stiifenmg, 
stiffened up into harder metal than ever 
when I introduced my protegee." 

" And they were right to do so. I had 



MISS CLE EVES' OPINIONS. 221 

no business to go to the Great House, and 
you had no business to take me, Miss 
Cleeves," I answered. Out in the darkness, 
with the cool wind blowing upon my hot 
forehead, I was not afraid to speak my 
mind, and I spoke it. 

" A miracle !" exclauned Miss Cleeves ; 
" httle Trenet has found her tongue, and 
the power to use it. Go on, my dear. 
There is no evenmg service anywhere ; and 
if there were, we should not attend it. In 
such and such a chapter, and at such and 
the twenty-four following verses, you will 
find it written — go on, Annie ; the con- 
gregation has found the text, and is all 
attention," 

" What is my text, then, Miss Cleeves T 
I asked. 

" Old heads shall be put on young 
shoulders immediately," she rejolied with- 
out a moment's hesitation ; " for such is 
the law and the prophets." 

" My dear Lizzie, how can you be so 



222 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

absurd, and, I must add, so irreverent:" 
asked Mr. Sylvester. 

" My dear Sil, the life we lead ought 
to make any young person absurd and 
irreverent. You, of course, are different, 
because when you came into the world the 
nurse found out you had already learned 
your ABC and Catechism. For my own 
part, I believe our respected Aunt Dorothy 
was born in a front, and had a set of false 
teeth in her cradle." 

" You know," he interposed, rather vehe- 
mently, " she wears her own beautiful grey 
hair, and that there is nothing false about 
her." 

" You need not get into a passion over 
the matter," she suggested ; " I only spoke 
metaphorically ; but I put it to you now 
as a matter of belief and fact : do you or 
do you not beheve that when Miss WiflPorde 
made her debut on the stage of this wicked 
world, she was got up regardless of expense ; 
with her hair quite smooth, and her clothing 



MISS CLE EVES' OPINIONS. 223 

fitting her without a crease ? My opinion 
is she came into existence beautifully 
dressed, and looking precisely what she 
does now — the primmest, stateliest, dearest, 
most provoking old lady in Christendom." 

" Why provoking ?" 

" Oh, because she has a certain standard 
to which she would raise and lower all 
people. She cannot understand youth. 
Only to think how many hundred years 
must have come and gone since she was 
young herself! She cannot compre- 
hend young people ; she cannot comprehend 
me. 

" You think that a very remarkable want 
of understanding ?" He said this quietly, 
but I fancied I could detect a lurkinsr sneer 
in his voice as he put the question. 

" Yes ; I am sure a child might under- 
stand me." 

" I am by no means so certain of that," 
he repHed. "Wliat does Miss Trenet 
say r 



224 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" I tliink it is very easy to understand 
Miss Cleeves," was my answer, finding one 
expected. 

" You sweet darling ! and what do you 
understand about Miss Cleeves T coming 
round to the side on which I was walking, 
and putting her arm round my neck. 

" I think you like your own way, and are 
angry when any one else wants her way." 

" Meaning you and me." 

" Meaning you and anybody." I said 
this bravely. 

" There's a little rustic for you, Sil," re- 
marked Miss Cleeves after a pause, which I 
know now was one of mortification. " There 
is your simple country maiden. If she be 
^0 caustic in her teens, what mil she prove 
at thirty ?" 

" That is a problem I really cannot 
solve," repHed Mr. Sylvester ; and for a 
few minutes we all walked on in silence. 

Then the young gentleman, wanting 
perhaps to soothe the trouble he knew I 



MISS CLEEVES' OPINIONS. 225 

must have felt that evening, began to talk 
to me about myself and my home. 

More especially, I remember, he spoke 
concerning music hke one who loved it ; 
and when the young moon was rising over 
the plantations of the Wifforde domain, I 
told him I never heard or imagined any- 
thing like Madame Serlini's singing ; at 
which statement he smiled and said — 

" You are not singular m your opinion. 
Some of the best musical critics of the day 
believe there never has been, and never 
will be, such another prima donna as Lucia 
Serlini, and I am inclined to agree with 
them. But you have a wonderful voice 
yourself, my cousin reports," he went on ; 
" what do you intend to do with it ?" 

" I, sir ? Nothing," was my answer. 

How I was growing to hate my voice, 
which seemed always getting me into 
scrapes ! If I could have buried it in the 
deep pool that night, it should never have 
prepared fresh troubles for me. 

VOL. L 15 



226 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Adhere to that resolution," he said, 
" and you will do well." 

" Nonsense !" exclaimed Miss Cleeves ; 
" she will make the best of that wonderful 
gift which God has given her, or do very 
ill. Supj)ose we had talents, Sil — or 
enough talent to make those we' possess 
available — should we not turn them to 
account ?" 

There came no answer to this. Looking 
at the pair stealtliily, as we three walked 
soberly along the road, I vaguely under- 
stood that they were unhappy ; that the 
bread of dependence — be it ever so thickly 
spread Avith butter — must of necessity seem 
dry and tasteless in the mouths of some 
who have to eat it day by day. 

Just as I had refused my tea and cake 
that night, so would they have refused 
some portions of their entertainment had 
they dared. 

Somehow in my head there took root at 
that moment an idea that life is not 



AfISS CLE EVES' OPINIONS. 227 

SO out of proportion as we are apt in our 
ignorance to think it. Early or late, one 
must begin to learn the letters of the social 
alphabet, with the view of reading the 
truths of our existence aright. 

My first introduction into grand society 
commenced that curious process of educa- 
tion which, as it can never be considered 
quite ended until some one closes our eye- 
lids for us in the last sleep earth knows, 
may not, I think, inappropriately be termed 
the education of hereafter ; since having 
been going on through all time, it must' 
somehow, for good or for evil, influence 
eternity. 

As we neared the cottage I could see 
my grandmother standing by the gate, 
watching evidently for me. She had a 
shawl wrapped round her head and shoul- 
ders, so I knew she must have been stand- 
ing there for a considerable period. 

"Oh, Miss Cleeves,"! cried, my conscience 
smiting me for having caused that dear old 

15—2 



228 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

woman a moment's anxiety, " grannie is 
out waiting for me — see 1" 

" Don't be afraid," answered the young 
lady. " It was all my fault ; and when I 
tell her so she will not be angry." 

" She is never angry with me ; I told 
you so before," I replied, a little rudely ; 
" but she must have been uneasy or she 
would not be standing there, and I cannot 
bear to grieve her." 

Hearing which, Miss Cleeves and Mr. 
Sylvester exchanged glances, and the latter 
said — 

" Suppose you run on and tell her you 
have come back safe and sound. We 
shall not be more than two minutes 
after you." 

No sooner said than done. Along the 
moonlit road I darted like an arrow re- 
leased from the bow. Oh, what a sense of 
freedom seemed to enter my soul as I sped 
on, cleaving the crisp air of that clear 
bright autumn night ! 



M/SS CLE EVES' OPINIONS. 229 

I fancy the birds as they fly must feel 
the same sort of delight as I experienced. 
The noise made by my steps on the sandy 
road, slight though it was, quickened me 
to more rapid motion, and my breath came 
fast as, throwing my arms about her neck, 
I panted out — 

" It is I, grannie ; so glad to get back to 
you at last." 

"Where have you been all this time, 
child ?" she asked. " I could not rest in- 
doors, thinking that something had hap- 
pened to you. Where have you been V 

" At the Great House," was my answer. 
" I could not get away earlier. Miss 
Cleeves and Mr. Sylvester brought me 
home." 

" Brought you home ! You are dream- 
ing. Brought you home, indeed ! What 
next, I wonder !" 

" I hope you have not been uneasy about 
Annie, Mrs. Motfield," cried Miss Cleeves, 
now distant about a dozen yards ; " you 



230 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

remember I promised to bring her safe 
back to you, and here she is." 

" You have taken far too much trouble, 
Miss," was the reply, " far too much. My 
duty to you, sir." 

This to Miss Cleeves' companion, who 
raised his hat to my grandmother as though 
she had been a duchess. 

" How deliciously sweet the flowers 
smell here !" exclaimed Miss Cleeves, in- 
hahng the odours of our humble pai^terre 
as though they had never a plant or shrub 
in the whole of the Wiiforde domain. 

" Do not they smell as sweet at the Great 
House T Mr. Sylvester inquired. 

" No, I think not," was the reply. "One 
always meets with flowers m a small garden 
that are never to be found in a large one — 
I have often remarked that fact ; but Mrs. 
Motfield's is altogether the dearest little 
house I ever saw in my life." 

" Would you be pleased to walk in, Miss, 
and rest for awhile T asked my grand- 
mother. 



MISS CLE EVES' OPINIONS. 231 

I saw she did not like making the pro- 
position lest she should seem taking a 
liberty, but she liked less the notion of 
appearing inhospitable. 

" Yes," answered Miss Cleeves, " it would 
please me very much mdeed, if I should not 
be m your way. If you are gomg to those 
tiresome E-awlings, Sil, you might call for 
me as you return, or you can come m if 
you choose." 

"What does Mrs. Motfield say?" he 
asked, with a pleasant smile. 

" I shall only be too much honoured, 
sir," she rephed ; and accordingly we all 
four entered the house, and passed into the 
sittmg-room, which seemed crowded by the 
unusual number of occupants. 

" Is not it a darling cosy tiny morsel of a 
place T cried ]\iiss Cleeves, appealing to her 
relative. " Is not it a curiosity parlour ? 
Would not Aunt Laura give her eyes for 
that old china ? Dear Mrs. Motfield, where 
did you get those heavenly cups and 
saucers ?' 



232 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

It was a custom of ours — a renmant of 
superstition it may seem to some persons, 
a proof to others that we were, as I have 
stated, very low indeed in the social scale — 
always on Sundays to wear and use the 
best of everytliing we possessed. Let the 
morning be ever so wet, let the sky be ever 
so murky, or the snow ever so deep, 
still, when we rose from our beds, we 
put on the newest and freshest of our 
clothes, we added some little dainty to our 
ordinary fare, we set out whatever of value 
or ornament our drawers and cupboards 
contained, we drank our tea out of delicate 
china cups, that had come from the far- 
away village where my father was buried, 
and it was poured from a silver tea-pot, 
which all the rest of the week we kept 
wrapped well up in flannel and locked 
carefully away. 

It was therefore to very old and very 
beautiful china indeed that Miss Cleeves 
had directed her attention. My grand- 
mother must have delayed the evening 



MISS CLE EVES' OPINIONS. 233 

meal for my appearance, since the tray 
stood on the little table beside the hearth, 
and the tea had not, I saw, gone even 
through that solemn process known to us 
careful folks as being "wetted." 

" You have not yet had tea," went on 
Miss Cleeves, as was her custom, without 
waiting for an answer to her question about 
the china. " Pray, Mrs. Motfield, do ask 
me to have some with you. Annie has not 
had a drop, though I stood guard over her 
on one side, and Miss WiiForde on the 
other, trying to make her swallow some. 
Sunday is the only day in the week we 
have no dinner ; why is known alone to 
Providence and my aunts. The WiJffordes 
have some legend about the servants want- 
ing to go to afternoon church — a total myth, 
I may remark by the way — and the conse- 
quence is, the moment we get back from 
morning service we are expected to eat a 
horrid cold luncheon, that is, I beheve, laid 
out over night, as though it were a funeral 
feast, and we get nothing more, excepting 



234 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

a cup of tea, till nine o'clock, when we have 
supper — also cold — after which, and prayers, 
we are all very glad to bid each other good- 
night. The only comfort about the matter 
is, that the servants have to do with cold 
meat too, which I am sure is a serious trial 
to them." 

So this was the way of keeping Sunday 
that obtained at the Great House. On the 
whole, I concluded our modest festivity and 
perusal of the Pilgrims Progress appeared a 
more enticing programme. 

Miss Cleeves, at all events, seemed to 
enjoy her Sunday evenuig in our little 
parlour ; and even Mr. Sylvester, although 
she occasionally shocked his sense of grave 
propriety, could not always avoid laughing 
at her ceaseless chatter. 

As to my grandmother, she listened, 
faMy amazed ; not an idea, a prejudice, or 
an opinion of her life but Miss Cleeves 
knocked over like nmepins. 

She sat there, dressed in her best black me- 



MISS CLEEVES' OPINIONS. 235 

rino gown, with a pure white kerchief of fine 
lawn, clear-starched and ironed by her own 
hands, folded across her bosom, and secured 
at the throat by a brooch, set round with 
pearls, contaming her mother's hair, with 
her white locks smoothly braided back 
under the high widow's cap, the fashion of 
which had never been altered in my 
memory, hearkening to this rattle-brained 
miss, who seemed to respect nothing in the 
heavens or on the earth. 

She never spoke of the Misses Wiiforde 
save as old darhngs, or funny old things ; 
she ridiculed the way in which the whole 
country-side fell down and worshipped 
before them ; she called the Great House 
the High Place of Lovedale, and said the 
inhabitants thought it much more worthy 
of reverence than either church or chapel ; 
she described the Lovedalites as being in 
matters of rehgion Catholics and Dis- 
senters — both sects being disciples of 
Wifforde ; she thought a London season 



236 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

would kill the poor dears, they would never 
survive, she declared, finding out, as a 
practical fact, that there were other families, 
richer, older, more remarkable than theirs ; 
she inclined to a belief that if they had 
married fifty years before, and been blessed 
with twelve children apiece, a more inti- 
mate knowledge of the ways of young 
people must have ensued. 

And all through the discourse my grand- 
mother could not get in a word, even edge- 
ways — no, not although Miss Cleeves ate 
more bread-and-butter covered thick with 
plum jam than I had ever seen consumed 
even by Tommy at Fairport, and drank 
her tea as though the old china cup im- 
parted an extraordinary and delicious 
flavour to it. 

The whole tiling was like a dream, as 
much Hke a dream as my visit to the Great 
House, only more pleasant. 

We felt far more at home with Mr. Syl- 
vester and his cousin than had ever been 



MISS CLEEVES' OPINIONS. 237 

the case when Miss Hunter favoured us 
with a call. He was so courteous, and she 
so lively. She told us all about her own 
home, and her relations ; gave us a descrip- 
tion of Dacres Park ; favoured us with 
reminiscences of her early life ; and im- 
parted to my grandmother's astonished ears 
the intelligence that she was utterly weary 
of highly civilized stupidity, and that if she 
could choose her own career, and were 
possessed of any talent, she would turn 
ballad-singer, opera-dancer, or author before 
she would lead the monotonous existence 
most of the women she knew were doomed 
to pass. 

Then, having finished her tea, and her 
general conversation, or rather declamation, 
she suddenly said to my grandmother — 

"What are you gomg to do with 
Annie ?" 

" I do not exactly know what you mean, 
Miss," was the reply ; while I pitifully whis- 
pered to Miss Cleeves — 



238 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Don't, please ; please, don't. 

" Be quiet, you stupid little thing !" she 
answered, quite out loud. " I want to 
know whether you intend to let her voice 
waste its sweetness on the desert air of 
Lovedale, or whether you mean to have her 
properly mstructed and brought out." 

" I would rather not talk about Annie, 
if you will excuse my speaking so plainly," 
said my grandmother quietly enough, 
though I could see her face flush and her 
hands tremble. " She has been placed 
by God in an humble path of life, in com- 
parison to yours, Miss ; and I hope she will 
be content to walk in it honestly and dis- 
creetly, as her people have tried to do before 
her." 

" Yes, grannie, I will !" I exclaimed ; and 
what I said at the moment I meant. 

The ghmpses caught of the world outside 
my home had not seemed to me very 
alluring ; my experiences of general society 
had not proved uninterruptedly pleasant. 



MISS CLE EVES' OPINIONS. 239 

Altoo-ether home seemed to me that even- 
ing a very desirable place in which to dwell, 
my path in life a more congenial one than 
that trodden by the Misses Wifforde. 

" There seems to be a delio-htful unani- 
mity between you two," remarked Miss 
Cleeves, " as charming as it is novel. 
Neverthel ess " 

"Lizzie," internipted Mr. Sylvester at 
tliis pomt, " Mrs. Motfield has already told 
you she does not desire to discuss the ques- 
tion, and you should respect her wishes." 

" That is the manner in which all mme 
are usually repressed," said Miss Cleeves, 
turning to my grandmother, and laughmg 
good-hiunouredly. " Nevertheless," she 
proceeded, " I shall come and see you one 
of these days quite by myself, and you and 
I will have a long chat, with never a soul 
to bid us nay." 

Had it been any other jDcrson but a rela- 
tion of the Misses Wifforde who made this 
promise, I know my grandmother would 



240 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

have said she did not desire either her 
visits or her conversation or her counsel ; 
but as matters stood, she was compelled to 
declare she should feel proud and happy to 
see Miss Cleeves at any time. 

" Cda va sans dire^^ remarked the young 
lady to Mr. Sylvester ; and at the time I 
thought her extremely ill-bred for talking in 
a foreign language before people who could 
not understand what she meant. 

I have heard the same thing done, how- 
ever, so often since by persons who profess 
the very highest breeding, that I am 
begmning to doubt the accuracy of my 
judgment in that, as in many other matters 
of more and less importance. 

Be this as it may, after Miss Cleeves' 
short French sentence, we all seemed to 
get a little dull ; and I felt very glad when 
Mr. Sylvester told his cousin she must really 
think of retracing her steps to the Great 
House. 

"It is too late for Mr. Rawlmgs," he 



MISS CLE EVES' OPINIONS. 241 

observed, as they passed out into the moon- 
light. 

And Miss Cleeves answered — 
" So far as I am concerned, I should 
always take good care it was too late for 
any of that delightful family." 

And then we locked and bolted the door, 
and went back into our parlour. But we 
could not lock and bolt out the world which 
had stepped across the threshold of our 
secluded home that day. ■ 




VOL. I. 16 




CHAPTER XIII. 

SHADOWS. 

HAT "long chat " concerning me and 
my prospects whicli Miss Cleeves 
had left our house fully intending 
to have all to herself, ere many days were 
over, was destined never to take place. 
Unaccustomed to such eccentricities as 
standing for an hour at her garden-gate on 
a chilly night in autumn, my grandmother 
remarked next morning that she feared she 
had taken cold. Before tea-time she be- 
came worse, and went to bed early, observ- 
ing that a basin of gruel and a sound 
night's sleep would cure her. 

She had the gruel, but not the night's 
sleep. When day broke, she, who was 
always earliest astu* in that early house. 



SHADOWS. 243 



called to inquire if I were awake ; and on 
my answering her in the affirmative, asked 
for some water. 

" I have not closed my eyes all night," 
she said, when I brought her a tumblerful 
of water cold as ice, which I had myself 
drawn from the picturesque well, arched 
over, and covered with moss, and ferns, and 
brambles. " I don't think I shall get up just 
yet, Nannie. I will turn round on my 
pillow, and try to have a nap. Kiss me, 
dear." 

With a great sense of fear, none the less 
terrible because undefined, I obeyed her 
wish. Then I tucked the bedclothes 
warmly round her, drew the blinds across 
the wuidow, stole to the door on tiptoe, and 
leaving it just unlatched, went downstairs 
as quietly as I could. 

What an eternity that morning seemed 
to be ! The sun, which had always before 
tempted me off to the river, or the woods, 
or the lanes, rose higher and higher, till I 

16—3 



244. HOME, SWEET HOME. 

felt almost as though I hated his brightness. 
I went and talked to our then Jill about 
my grandmother's illness, which she treated 
as a light matter, adding — 

" I told her she would take cold, wan- 
dering up and down that damp walk at her 
time of life, with nothing but a shawl about 
her head, and you see I am right ;" which 
fact, I have no doubt, comforted her ex- 
ceedingly. 

Extracting but small consolation myself, 
however, from this proof of her prophetic 
powers, I sought Jack, whom I found in the 
cowhouse milking, his pail nearly full, and 
his shock head well planted into Cowslip's 
flank. 

Him I informed that my gi-andmother 
had a very severe cold, and was unable to 
get up. Whereupon he remarked " it was a 
bad job ;" and his conversational talents 
being few, oirr talk ended. 

After this I fed the fowls, which were 
hungry and greedy, and fought and pecked 



SHADOWS. 245 



each other in a manner that in my then 
frame of mind dissfusted me. So I threw 
down the remainder of the barley in a heap, 
for them to scratch among and quarrel over 
at their leisure, and wandered off into the 
garden ; where I plunged my hands into 
the beds of thyme, drawing my fingers back- 
wards and forwards through the cushions of 
green leaves, ornamented with purple 
flowers. But the smell I usually loved so 
much seemed heavy and sickly, and I won- 
dered how the great bees who came hum- 
ming to their accustomed breakfast-table 
while I was standing beside the herb border 
could be so fond of that honey-laden corner. 
The bleating of distant sheep, the cooing of 
the pigeons, the very murmur of the Love, 
brought no pleasure to my heart. 

I was out of tune ; and, as is usual in 
such cases, the discord seemed in other in- 
struments, not in mine own heart. I felt 
uneasy, not knowing why ; and nothing in 
creation appeared to have a fear but myself 



246 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

I was unhappy, and yet all nature smiled 
and carolled as though, existence did not 
contain such a thing as care. For the first 
time in my memory sickness and I had come 
face to face ; and sickness, to those who 
have been accustomed only to behold health, 
is a mystery and a dread. 

Strong were the dwellers in Lovedale, 
strong and hardworking ; the hard work 
they did may indeed have been the principal 
secret of their strength. Small need was 
there for any doctor's services, save when 
children were brought into the world, or 
accidents happened, or httle people caught 
childish diseases, or grown folk fell sick of 
that last illness which no doctor's skill is 
competent to cure. Now one dropped off, 
now another ; the passmg-bell, the freshly 
heaped-up mound, repeated to our senses 
the truth we were told every Sunday, that 
" man is mortal ;" but to me sickness and 
death had hitherto been abstract questions, 
utterly outside my own experience. 



SHADOWS. 247 



In my memory there had been no mortal 
iUness, no fight for Hfe, no forlorn struggle 
with disease beneath our roof. 

Into that quiet home no intruder had 
ever come with ready rule and hypocritically 
sad face, to take measure and instructions 
for the last narrow house man may occupy ; 
no black procession had passed along the 
garden path, carrymg somethmg away 
which might return to the cottage never 
more ; no mound had duriag my time been 
added on our behalf to those which already 
billowed the green turf of Lovedale church- 
yard. Save for the black-sealed letter 
announcing my father's decease, death and 
I had not touched garments even m passiag. 
When therefore I beheld my grandmother, 
whom I had never before heard complain of 
any aihnent beyond rheumatic pams, a sore 
throat, a headache, or any other slight 
malady, so ill that she called me to fetch 
her water, and then said she would He in 
bed for a Httle while longer, I fell to con- 



248 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

juring up all sorts of sad fancies. She was 
ill, she was dying ; she would die, and I 
had killed her — I, aided and abetted by 
Miss Cleeves. 

I could not see the far-off village, my eyes 
were so dim with tears. I ceased to hear 
the humming of bees and the songs of 
birds, by reason of the i-ushing noise made 
by the waves of remorse, as they surged in 
upon my heart. 

Some one — Jill — had spoken that morn- 
ing about her age ; it seemed hours and 
hours previously, but the sentence recurred 
over and over agam. How old was she ? to 
what age did people generally Hve ? Three- 
score and ten, the Bible said — that was 
seventy years ; but then our minister, and 
other ministers to whose discourses I had 
been privileged to listen, stated few attained 
to the allotted span, whereas in my own 
memory four of the inhabitants of Lovedale 
and neighbourhood had not passed away 
from the midst of friends and kindred till 
past eighty. 



SHADOWS. 249 



This question of the ages at which people 
die was not one which had hitherto engaged 
my attention — strangely enough, by the 
way, since I suppose very young people and 
actuaries of insurance offices are the only 
persons who ever really take an interest in 
the statistics of mortality — but I intended 
in the future to redeem my time. 

If my grandmother got better, I would 
go down to Lovedale churchyard early some 
morning and count over all the headstones 
it contained sacred to the memories of those 
who had died over seventy years of age. 

The registrar-general I now know would 
have told me that every record I found to 
this effect would reduce the average, and 
seriously and deleteriously affect my grand- 
mother's chances of recovery ; but I was 
unaware in those days that such a person 
existed, and imagined in my ignorance that 
if seven people had been able to live to 
ninety, there was all the more reason to 
suppose that another individual could do 
the same. 



250 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

In a word, I concluded tliat what one 
man had done another man (or woman) 
might accomphsh. Spite of registrar-gene- 
rals, I am not to the present day quite sure 
that there may not be a substratum of 
truth in my theory. 

By it, at all events, I proposed to test 
my grandmother's chances of long life. 

Standing in that dear old garden — the 
Love rippling far below on its way to the 
distant sea, the scents of autumn flowers 
around, the accustomed sounds m my ears, 
before my eyes the unaccustomed sight of 
drawn blinds veiling sickness that might be 
mortal — the idea of life holdino; a future 
for me in which our cottage and its inmates 
might have no part, first occurred to me. 

A world without a home, a time when I 
should have no place to run back to, no 
grannie to welcome me, no tender voice to 
chide. It came to my soul vaguely in that 
early morning, while the sun shone so 
bright. I was young, but old enough to 



SHADOWS. 251 



cogitate matters which have puzzled wiser 
heads than mine. I was small for my 
years ; and in some respects the growth of 
my mind had corresponded to that of my 
body. Some kindly influence, seeing the 
natural development, which might other- 
wise have proved unhealthy, perpetually 
"pinched back" the leaflets I tried to send 
forth ; and the consequence was, that in 
comparison to other girls of the same age I 
remained without bud or promise of blos- 
som. Sometimes when I see an expe- 
rienced gardener nippmg the young wood 
from off a plant that is making it prema- 
turely, the time when I too was subjected 
to the same treatment recurs to me. All 
of sentiment, of fancy, of romance, of 
stretching forth, had been rigidly repressed ; 
and yet at the first note of danger the sap 
of imagination rose within me, and I pic- 
tured all sorts of dangers, that were, hke 
other products of imagmation, destmed to 
be realized m due course of time. 



252 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

For imagination is only the reflex of 
things which have been, or the precursor of 
things which are to be. Looking back, it 
is plain to me now, that unwittingly I 
began that morning to untwist one of the 
tangled skeins of life. 

Wliich may all seem high and mighty 
language to apply to the days of one's 
earlier girlhood ; and yet nevertheless it is 
true, true as sickness, true as death, that I 
then contemplated face to face, and not on 
my own account, life's mystery for the first 
time. 

What if grannie should be mortally ill, 
and die ? I pictured in my own mind the 
darkened house, the parlour full of people 
clad in black, the something lying still and 
rigid with clasped hands and eyes closed, 
never to open again in this world ; and 
worse than all, the long lonely afterwards — 
the mornings and the mid-days and the 
evenings without grannie, who loved me ; 
and as I contemplated scene after scene of 



SHADOWS. i>53 



the panorama myself had painted, the whole 
thing seemed so real that, unable to endure 
the mocking sunHght and the intolerable 
solitude, I rushed into the house, and 
climbing up to the highest shelf of our 
parlour cupboard, took down the family 
Bible, which would, I knew, give me some 
rehable ififormation concerning my grand- 
mother's age. 

She was not quite nineteen when she 
went to be the mistress of Motfield's farm, 
and therefore, once I found the date of her 
marriage, the matter became a question of 
addition. 

There was the entry ; made in a stiff, 
plain, yet withal crabbed hand, with ink 
which had scarcely faded through all the 
years of the time that had passed since then: 
" Anne Boyson and Isaac Motfield, 
married the 16th day of August 17 — ." 

Forty-five summers previously. To my 
youth what an eternity it seemed ! Forty- 
five and nineteen made sixty-four. She 



254 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

was not quite sixty-four. Once some one 
told me about a man who lived to be a 
hundred and twenty ; ergo, my grandmother 
might still reign over her little territory for 
fifty-six years longer. 

I breathed more freely. I wiped my 
eyes, I closed the family Bible, and gave it 
a hug ere replacing it on that topfnost shelf 
of safety and honour. I had mounted on 
the seat of one of our old-fashioned chairs, 
in order to put it back carefiilly, when 
there came a tap-tapping at the window, 
which almost caused me to drop the book ; 
and looking round, I beheld Miss Cleeves 
arrayed in her habit and plumed brigand 
hat, rapping on the pane with her gold- 
handled whip, in order to attract my 
attention. 

Never was vision more welcome. She 
looked the very embodiment of health and 
help. 

I ran to the front door to meet her, cry- 
ing as I opened it — 



SHADOWS. 255 



" Oh, Miss Cleeves, I am so glad to see 
yon !'■' 

" Are you glad really, little woman T she 
said, taking me in her arms and kissing 
me. " I would not disturb you till you 
had finished your devotions. Do you 
generally perform your morning exercises 
out of that huge volume V 

" Don't laugh about things, please — not 
now," I entreated ; "grannie is very ill." 

" What is the matter with her V 

" I do not know." 

" Good heavens ! then why don't you 
send for somebody who will know ? I 
declare, Annie Trenet, you have been cry- 
ing ; your eyes are red and moist, and your 
cheeks flushed and moist also. Tell me 
what is the matter mth Mrs. Motfield this 
instant, you httle stupid." 

Thus exhorted, I repeated my former 
answer — I did not know, and I said so. 

" At least you can tell me of what she 
complains." 



256 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

If one did not answer Miss Cleeves' first 
question to her satisfaction, she at once as- 
sumed the air of a cross-examining counsel. 
After a fashion, she put one on oath, and 
then compelled a reply to it, " by virtue of 
that oath." It is a blessing I had nothing 
to conceal in those days, or I should, in 
Miss Cleeves' opinion, have committed per- 
jury over and over again. 

*' She got a chill on Sunday night," I 
began ; " she complained of feeling ill all 
day yesterday. She had some gruel " 

" Pah 1" interjected Miss Cleeves. 

" And could not sleep last night, and 
asked me early this morning to get her a 
e^lass of cold water." 

" And I should not be in the least sur- 
prised if you have been crying your eyes 
out ever since, thinking she must be going 
to die. You foolish Httle Trenet ! people 
do not die so easily as that comes to, more 
especially a strong hearty old lady like Mrs. 
Motfield. Make your mind easy about her, 



SHADO WS. 25: 



and if you cannot, take my advice and send 
for the doctor. I called to ask if you would 
walk up with me this afternoon so far as 
the falls ; but now, of course, I wont say 
another word about it. Good-bye. I shall 
send do^vn this evening to know how your 
patient is ;" and putting her foot in the 
groom's hand, she was in her saddle before 
I could answer. " Good-bye, au revoir," 
she said, turning her head, and kissing her 
hand as her horse, with an impatient snort, 
started off full speed for home. 

How pretty and graceful she looked ! I 
can see the lines of her slight figure, the 
flow of her riding-skirt, the feathers in her 
hat, the gauntleted gloves, the tight trim 
linen collar, the red geranium fastened co- 
quettishly in the front of her jacket, as 
plainly as I saw it that autumn morning. 

Youth is so suitable to some people, it is 
a pity they should ever grow old. 

After her departure I went upstairs to 
ask if my grandmother would like a cup of 

VOL. I. 17 



258 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

tea. She said yes ; but still complained of 
niness. 

" If I am not better in an hour's time, 
Annie," she remarked, " I should like some 
one to go for the doctor. I do not want a 
cold to settle down upon me at the begin- 
ning of the winter." 

" Had not Jack better go at once T I 
ventured to ask ; and as no negative came, 
I sent him. 

After that I sat down and wrote to my 
Uncle Isaac, teUing him of his mother's ill- 
ness, and stating I would not send my letter 
tiU I knew what the doctor thought of it. 

What the doctor thought was ominous 
enough. He said that she had inflamma- 
tion of the lungs. 

"Whether this was really the case or not 
is scarcely a question for me to decide. My 
own present impression is, she was not so 
ill then as he imagined ; that whilst his 
treatment for a complaint of his own imagi- 
nation brought her to the brink of the 



SHADOWS. 259 



grave, the good things that came from the 
Great House durmg the course of her ilhiess 
helped to restore her to strength. But in 
those days I accepted the doctor's opinion 
as final ; and when Miss Cleeves remarked, 
"Inflammation! fiddle-de-dee!" I almost ex- 
pected a judgment to follow her irreverence. 

What a time that was, though ! Upstans 
lay the sufferer it had fallen to my lot to 
nurse — imperfectly it might be, but still to 
the best of my ability ; whilst day after day 
her sons and their wives, and daughters 
and then husbands, kept coming and going, 
grumbling at and interfering with every 
household arrangement ; requiring meals 
at unexpected and unreasonable hours ; 
emptying our modest larder ; criticising our 
management, and making me wild with 
vexation because they seemed to think me 
little better than a cumberer of the ground. 
All of them except Uncle Isaac, who boldly 
took my part and said — 

" Aiuiie is worth a dozen of some grown- 

17—2 



260 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

up folks I could name ; and for my part I 
feel quite easy at leaving my mother in her 
hands — that is, if the nursing be not too 
much for her," 

" Oh no, indeed it is not !" I broke in ; 

" I would do anything " But here Mrs. 

Daniel interposed. 

" Oh yes, we know all about that. Ac- 
cording to your own account you are a 
miracle of unselfishness ; but in my opinion 
you are a sly, underhanded cat, turning 
and twisting people who do not know you 
round your fingers. Look at your ingrati- 
tude to yom^ poor dear aunt at Fairport ; 
ah, there is nothing sharper than a serpent's 
tooth " 

" It seems to me," interposed my uncle, 
"that you are extremely unjust to Annie. 
What injury has the girl done to you or 
yours, that you should fly out on her like 
that T 

" Done !" repeated Mrs. Daniel, in a tone 
of supreme contempt. 



SHADOWS. 261 



" It is not my * doing/ but my ' being,' 
uncle, which offends everybody," I ex- 
claimed. 

No matter what those present thought 
of me, I could not have kept back those 
words. After uttering them I went out 
of the room and the house, through the 
garden, and away to the extreme verge of 
the paddock, where, flinging myself on the 
grass, I cried till I could cry no more. 

There Miss Cleeves found me. " Little 
Trenet," she said, " get up ; look at me — 
speak." And when I would not obey her 
bidding, she sat down on the grass beside 
where I lay, and taking me in her arms as 
she might have done a child, said — 

" Poor httle woman, have they vexed 
you ? Never mind ; once Mrs. Motfield 
is well again, all will be well with you 
too." 

And then I crept close to her with a sort 
of dumb appeal, and we two remained there 
in solemn silence for full five minutes. 



262 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" I think I am a great baby," was my 
first observation. 

" I am sure you are," Miss Cleeves agreed 
with amiable alacrity ; but she stroked my 
hair and patted my cheeks caressingly 
nevertheless. 

What a time that was ! what an amount 
of responsibility seemed suddenly thrown 
on my shoulders ! How old I felt when, 
after having been up nearly all the night, I 
crept to bed, leaving Mary to take my 
place ! How I blessed the minister's wife 
for coming up one evening when I felt quite 
worn out, and saying — 

" Annie, this is getting too much for you. 
I will sit with Mrs. Motfield whilst you 
.have a sound sleep." 

How gratefully I stored up the memory 
of every kind word which was spoken ! 
How I dreaded the visits of our relatives ! 
How I rejoiced when, in dog- and market- 
carts and other vehicles, generally borrowed, 
they departed ! 

It came to an end at last. Before Christ- 



SHADOWS. 263 



mas — thanks, as I have previously, sug- 
gested, to the delicacies provided by the 
ladies at the Great House, who stopped 
their carriage at our gate three times, and 
sent on each occasion a footman to inquire 
how Mrs. Motfield was — my grandmother, 
aged considerably by her illness, but still, 
comparatively speakmg, well again, came 
downstairs to her accustomed seat in our 
little parlour, and by slow degrees we fell 
into the old routine again. 

One by one she picked up the threads 
dropped months before ; little by httle she 
resumed her wonted avocations ; life pre- 
sented its mterests to her agam ; and save 
that the Bible lay open on the Httle table 
more frequently than formerly, and that we 
both seemed to have added some years to 
our age, there was no outward change to 
be noted m our existence. And yet I was 
conscious of an alteration in myself; I felt 
weary of the place, weary of my home, my 
occupations, my fancies. 

I had shot up during those months spent 



264 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

in a sick room, and outgrown, so people 
suggested, my strength. Perhaps jDhysical 
weakness had some share in the depression 
and misery I felt ; but I fancy mental 
sickness had more part in it than bodily 
illness. 

Day was a toil to me and night a dread. 
Frost and snow, the Love rushing on m 
its winter might and strength to the sea, 
the early snowdrops, the budding crocuses, 
the first sights and sounds of spring — I 
had lost my love and rehsh for them all. 

We found plenty to talk about, grannie 
and I, in the evenings over the fire ; but 
the talk had no savour — the salt was gone, 
and the taste even of the most astounding 
fact insipid to me. 

What was it to me that many of the 
ornaments wherein my heart once rejoiced 
were, when we came to consider ornaments 
again, nowhere to be found ? I could not 
work myself up to a fitting state of indig- 
nation when we discoursed concerning a 



SHADOWS. 265 



missing cream jug, and a couple of china 
bowls. If I could only have been assured 
that Mrs. Daniel and Mrs. Isaac Motfield 
would never enter the house again, if a 
bond had been possible whereby aU the 
Motfields great and little, save and except- 
ing my Uncle Isaac, might have bound 
themselves severally and collectively to 
keep away from Lovedale, the whole of the 
valuables I possessed should have gone to 
them without a word. 

I hated my relatives as only very, very 
young people can hate — impotently, in- 
stinctively, totally. I hated to think of 
them, to utter their names, or to hear their 
names uttered. I had seen them during 
the course of that illness mentally naked, 
so to speak. 

I had seen their greed, their sordid 
grasping, their envy and jealousy and un- 
charitableness. I had seen not, who could 
do and who give up most, but who could 
take all and do least. I had heard their 



266 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

bickerings and borne their taunts. I knew 
they grudged me the belongings that were 
mine of right, and to which they had not the 
remotest shadow of a claim. I was made 
to feel that in winning my grandmother's 
affections I had inflicted a wrong; on them. 

Cold were they, cold and worldly — men 
and women who valued money and plenish- 
ings, linen, plate, and clothing very high ; 
who walked uprightly and respectably in 
the eye of the world ; who were better, in 
their own opinion and that of their neigh- 
bours, than many pubhcans ; and whom 
even I, with all my detestation of their 
ways and words and thoughts and habits, 
could not call sinners. 

I know now their hearts, pufied up by 
success, were hard as the nether millstone ; 
but I only knew then that, as I have said, 
I hated them with a hatred impossible to 
express in language. 

For the first time in my memory, the 
sight of the primroses springing up on the 



SHADOWS. 267 



sides of mossy banks, or showing their 
faces amongst the beech-leaves that last 
autumn's winds had strewed upon the 
ground, brought no feeling of gladness to 
me. 

I walked about Lovedale listless and 
tired. The only thing I really longed for 
was a sight of the sea ; but even if Mrs. 
Isaac would have had me at her house, I 
felt I could never bring myself to enter it 
again. 

She and the rest of my kindred had 
shown me what tender mercies I might 
expect if I were left to their care. They 
had never believed my grandmother would 
recover, and they consequently, certain of 
the game, showed their hands too openly, as 
events proved. 

Fortunately those were not days in 
which women of all ranks wielded the pen 
with the fatal facihty of modern years, or 
I know not what epistles of wrath might 
not have been despatched from our cottage 



268 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

to those wlio had left it laden with spoil 
like the Israehtes of old. 

As matters stood, we talked of our losses 
between ourselves ; but I could not evince 
that interest in the subject which it would 
have aroused twelve months previously. 

Often my grandmother would put down 
her knitting, and, after lookmg at me over 
her spectacles, exclaim — 

" I wonder what has come to you, 
child." 

To which my invariable reply was — 

" I am sure I don't know, grannie." 

Shortly before Christmas Miss Cleeves 
had left Lovedale m order to pay a visit to 
her mother and her mother's relatives, the 
Dacres ; so that our life flowed on literally 
without a break of any kind, except such as 
was supplied by a couple of letters written to 
me by that young lady from Dacres Park. 

They were lively epistles, and it was 
kind of her to write ; but I put them away, 
after they had been duly conned over by 



SHADOWS. 269 



both of US, with a sense of depression 
which caused my grandmother to remark, 
that I did not seem to be glad to hear from 
Miss Cleeves ; " though there are few 
young ladies in her rank who would take 
the trouble of ^vriting to you all the way 
from London," she finished. 

" Miss Cleeves is very kind," was my 
answer, " but I wish she would let me 
alone." 

Could my grandmother have read my 
heart, she would have understood how in- 
tolerable the difference of rank between 
Miss Cleeves and myself had become. I 
was fit to associate with no one, I thought 
over and over again bitterly enough. 

For my own people and my own rela- 
tions, I did not care. What were their 
interests and likings to me ? what were my 
interests and likings to them ? On the 
other hand, how could I, Farmer Motfield's 
grandchild, ever expect to be regarded as 
an equal by one of the Wifibrdes ? 



270 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

I had little education ; of their ways I 
knew nothing ; I was ignorant of their 
customs as of the rules of court etiquette. 
By turns Miss Cleeves petted and snubbed 
me ; but she had been kind, so kind, 
during my grandmother's illness, that my 
heart clunaf to her with the same sort of 
gratitude a dog feels to some one who has 
been good to hun. 

It was spring again, and in her latest 
letter she announced her intention of re- 
turning to the Great House ; " where" she 
proceeded, " my aunts, considering that I 
am in many respects still unworthy of the 
great dignity they have thrust upon me, 
propose that I shall have the mestimable 
advantage of a companion, able at once to 
direct my studies and improve my deport- 
ment. Fancy this ! as if life at Lovedale 
had not been sufficiently msupportable 
before. 

" Miss Cleeves does not seem very grate- 
ful for all the Misses Wifforde's kindness," 
observed my grandmother. 



SHADOWS. 271 



" Perhaps she does not think it kind- 
ness," I answered, hastily. 

" Young people are not always the best 
judges of what is kindness," was the com- 
ment on this remark. 

" Nor old people either," rose to my 
lips ; but I did not utter so saucy a reply. 
I put aside my work, and looked out at 
the sunshine ; and saying I thought I 
should hke a walk, went into the woods, 
abeady fragrant with wild hyacinths, and 
wliite with anemones. 

By the time I returned, it was the hour 
at which we invariably took tea ; but to 
my astonishment the tray had not been 
brought in, and I beheld no sign of pre- 
paration for it. 

Close by the window sat my grandmother, 
her hands clasped idly in her lap, her face 
graver and sadder than usual, her eyes 
scanning every flower in the garden, and 
steadfastly refusing to meet mine. 

" Annie dear, Miss Wifforde wants to 
see you. She left a message for you to go 



272 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

up to the Great House at once. There is 
no need for you to change your dress ; you 
can go as you are." 

" What have I done ? what is wrong ? 
what does she want ?" I asked. 

" There is nothing wrong, so far as I 
know," answered my grandmother, " and 
I hope you never will do anything to 
offend Miss Wifforde ; and as to what 
she wants, why, you can't hear unless 
you go to her ; so the sooner you go the 
better." 

There was a sharp irritability about the 
tone of this reply, different from my grand- 
mother's usual quiet manner, and it struck 
me so forcibly, that I could not help 
saying — 

" Are you angry with me, grannie, for 
anything ?" 

" Bless the child, no ! Why should I be 
angry with you or anybody else ? But run 
away now, or you will be walking in at 
their dinner-time." 



SHADOWS. 273 



Without another word I did as she told 
me, except that instead of running, I 
walked slowly all the way. 

A woman opened the gates for me, and 
said, " Good afternoon. Miss," precisely as 
though I had a right to pass through them. 
When I arrived at the front door, the 
butler who answered my modest knock 
immediately allowed me to enter, and 
addressing Miss Hunter, who happened at 
the moment to be ascending the steps 
alluded to in a former chapter, stated 
briefly, " Miss Trenet is come." 

To my great astonishment my lady's 
lady did not come forward to shake hands 
with me, as had been her wont during the 
course of the previous summer, when my 
grandmother and I chanced to encounter 
her on our way to chapel. 

She only said, " Please follow me ;" and 
I followed accordingly. 



VOL. I. 18 



CHAPTER XIV. 

MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 

HE only time I had ever previously 

entered the Great House was 

when enticed into it by Miss 

Cleeves ; but my guide did not on the 

present occasion lead me along the gallery 

I so well remembered. 

Looking back at intervals to see I did 
not get lost by the way, she conducted me 
up a broad staircase, then across a vd.de 
landmg, and so into a passage, at the ex- 
treme end of which she stopped and 
knocked softly at the door. 

" Come in," said a voice I knew belonged 
to Miss Wifforde ; and Miss Hunter entered, 
leaving me outside. 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 275 

"It is Miss Trenet, if you please, 
ma'am," I heard her amiounce ; and then 
Miss Wifforde replied — 

" Send her to me, and — you need not 
wait, Hunter ; I will ring when I require 
anything." 

" My mistress will see you," remarked 
the maid, who had, I thought, an inimical 
expression on her face ; and she shut the 
door after me as if the room were a trap 
and the lock a spring. 

Whatever it might be that Miss WiSbrde 
had to say to me, I was bound to listen to 
it now. 

There was nothing formidable, however, 
in the lady's manner. Seeing that I hesi- 
tated to come forward, she motioned me 
to do so, and touching my hand with the 
tips of her fingers, said, " How do you do, 
my dear ?" with much condescension and 
intended cordiaHty of demeanour. 

" My dear " rephed she was quite well, 
believing an answer to be expected, though 

18—2 



276 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

she has since had reason to doubt the 
fact. 

*' Sit down," went on Miss Wifforde, 
graciously pointing to a chair placed op- 
posite to the windows ; and I sat down, as 
in duty bound. 

The truth is, I was for the moment 
bewildered, not merely by the frightful 
circumstance of finding myself tete-a-iete 
with Miss Wifibrde, but also by the 
unwonted magfnificence of her dressino;- 
room. 

Draperies, laces, old cabinets, inlaid 
tables, mirrors reflecting back the land- 
scape, glasses in which I could see Miss 
Wiiforde and myself reproduced at full 
length — these were some of the wonders 
I beheld. 

Hitherto, the finest furniture of this 
description it had fallen to my lot to con- 
template was contained in Mrs. Isaac 
Motfield's bed-chamber. Item, one four- 



M/SS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 277 

post bedstead, upholstered in stiff crimson 
moreen, trimmed with black velvet, 
window-curtains and valances to match ; 
mahogany washstand, ditto towel-horse ; 
ditto wardrobe ; ditto dressing-table and 
glass ; three ditto chairs, original covering 
unknown, second covering, white dimity ; 
large arm-chair, ditto ditto ; Brussels car- 
pet, hideous, with rug to match ; bronze 
fender, steel fire-u'ons. Ornaments on 
chimney-piece : china shepherdesses and 
Paul Pry ; a ditto sheep and dog, both 
couchant ; a paii' of very much soiled 
fire-screens. Above the chimney-piece, 
a portrait of Mrs. Isaac's mother, 
badly executed, and much cracked, in 
a frame that stood greatly in need of re- 
gilding. 

In comparison with our humble belong- 
ings, this apartment was luxury itself ; but in 
comparison with the splendour surrounding 
me in Miss Wifforde's dressing-room, Mrs. 



278 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Isaac's best bed-chamber hid its diminished 
head. 

I was dreadfully frightened, as much, I 
may honestly say, by reason of the furni- 
ture as of Miss Wifforde, who began the 
conversation thus — 

" I have some cause to believe that you 
are older in years than a stranger might 
imagine from your extremely childish 
appearance " (I winced at this remark), 
" and that you are, fi^om the pecuhar cir- 
cumstances of your bringing up, older in 
mind even than in years," 

Having arrived at which point. Miss 
Wifforde poured scent on her handkerchief, 
applied it to her brow, and commenced 
fanning herself, which were proceedings 
strange to my experience. 

" For both of which reasons I have 
decided to talk to you about your futiu'e. 
Have you ever thought of it T 

The question was abrupt, and took me 
by surprise, " for both of which reasons," 



Af/SS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 279 

to quote Miss WijQforde, I answered 
vaguely — 

" No, ma'am — that is, not much." 

" Not much," she repeated, with that 
Bmile wliich only a woman in her rank 
knows how to smile. 

Thinking of it all, I have a sort of 
momentary sympathy with those who rebel 
against centuries of cultivation. 

" Not much — but how much T I wonder 
why it is that the upper ten always un- 
consciously touch the French idiom when 
they are not dealing quite frankly with 
you, and know it. 

Most of my readers have been, it may 
fairly be presumed, present at a cross- 
examination or subject to one. I felt just 
then as the poor wretch does who, after 
giving what he believes is truthful evi- 
dence, has to set his face to the opposing 
counsel, whose business it is to prove he 
has been telling lies. I was in for my 
cross-examination by a lady, and here it is : 



280 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" Not much, but how much V was the 
question ; and just as I might have an- 
swered Mr. Serjeant So-and-so, I replied 
desperately — 

" While my grandmother was ill, I won- 
dered what would become of me if she was 
never to get any better." 

" I imderstand," said Miss Wifforde, 
" and then " 

" I beg your pardon, ma'am." 

" What did you think after that T 

" I thought nothing, ma'am." 

" And have thought nothing since ?" 
This was interrogatory. 

" My grandmother is well now, ma'am, 
and there is no need to think." 

Since that hour I have heard of people 
getting checkmated unexpectedly, but I 
never saw such an evidence of it. 

Miss Wifforde sat silent a few minutes, 
then she said — 

" You are young and I am old, and the 
experience of the old is, that what has 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 281 

happened before may happen again ; at any 
future time Mrs. Motfield may fall ill once 
more, and it is possible I — we — may not 
be at hand to help you." 

I rose up ; I was appalled. Here was 
death — a dual death — close at hand sug- 
gested in a single sentence. 

" Oh, Miss Wifforde r I cried, "do not 
talk like that, please don't !" 

And I stretched out my hands to 
entreat her pity — all in vain. 

" My child," she began — from that hour 
I always detested and distrusted people 
who called me, " my child" or " my dear," 
or indeed, to condense matter, " my any- 
thing" — " I trust your grandmother has 
many, many years of life before her. 
She has a wonderfully strong constitu- 
tion, and her habits have been simple 

and regular, but stiQ " At this point 

Miss Wifforde abruptly broke off her sen- 
tence, and after a moment's pause began 
another. 



282 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

" I told you I meant to talk to you about 
your future. There is no necessity for 
Mrs. Motfield's life or death to enter into 
the question. Sit down again, my dear. 
Our conversation has somehow drifted into 
an unpleasant subject, but we must try 
to forget that, and speak for the fiiture 
of nothing excepting what is agreeable. 
I have been thinking much about you 
since that Sunday evening when we first 
met, and it seems to me a pity you should 
not receive such an education as migfht 
enable you to make your way in the w^orld, 
no matter in what circumstances you may 
chance hereafter to be placed." 

I grasped the sense of this remark, but 
not its drift, and so remained sQent, al- 
though Miss Wifforde evidently expected 
some reply. 

" As a rule," she recommenced, " I am 
not an advocate for highly cultivating the 
intellect of — " " the lower classes" I know 
now she meant in her heart, but she really 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 283 

said, "those who are not likely to have 
sufficient leisure in after life to enjoy the 
fruits of such early teaching ; but there 
is no rule without an exception, and, as I 
said before, I think it is a pity you should 
not receive a thoroughly sound education. 
You would like to know as much as* other 
girls of your age, I suppose ?" she added, 
finding that unless she put a direct 
question it was vain to hope for any 
answer. 

" Yes, ma'am." 

" But there seems no chance of your 
ever learning much here." 

I shook my head mournfully. 

" Music now, for instance," she sug- 
gested. " You would like to become an 
accomplished pianist, to be taught sing- 
mg— 

" It would vex grannie," I murmured. 

" I think not," was the reply. " Indeed, 
I am sure not. Mrs. Motfield Ls much too 
sensible to allow prejudice to blind her in 



284 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

a matter where your interests are con- 
cerned ; and if she saw that you could 
receive good instruction at a reasonable 
price, there can be no question but that 
she would only be too glad for you to be 
put in the way of taking advantage of it. 
Now near Fan-port there are two ladies 
for whom I have the highest esteem, who 
take a limited number of pupils. Their 
estabhshment is less like a school than a 
home. You would have every opportunity 
there of obtaining a thoroughly sound 
education, and of acquiring such accom- 
plishments as you may wish to gain. I 
have already mentioned the matter to Miss 
Brundall, and she is quite willing to receive 
you on equal terms with her other boarders, 
and at a cost which Mrs. Motfield can 
afford. Should you like that ?" 

" Like it ! Oh, ma'am." 

I could not say another word, my heart 
was too full for speech. Miss Bnindall's was 
the school of Fairport — of the whole county. 



M/SS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 285 

in fact. At it attended professors who had 
come all the way from London. A real 
French governess lived in the house ; the 
young ladies sat in a great square pew 
at St. Stephen's Church. Miss Brundall's 
school was as much exalted above that at 
which my cousins were being educated as 
— as the great house was above our cot- 
tage. Miss Cleeves herself could not have 
desired greater advantages than were now 
offered to me. Like it ! My face showed 
whether I did or not ; and Miss Wifforde 
read its expression correctly. 

" I am glad you are pleased," she said, 
evidently gratified at my dehght ; "I 
thought you would be. So the matter is 
settled. I shall ask Mrs. Motfield to let 
me provide your wardrobe." 

I had forgotten Grannie — forgotten every- 
thing except the prospect of change, of 
beholding the sea once more, of being able 
to learn such things as Miss Cleeves had 
laughed at the idea of my not knowing. I 



286 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

had raised up a fairy palace for myself, 
and in a moment it was level with the 
earth. 

" If you please, ma'am," I said, " I do 
not think my grandmother would like me 
to go to Miss Brundall's. I can't tell you 
how much obhged I am, but — — " 

" Stop a moment, cliild ! What if the 
question be left for you to decide T 

" I do not know what you mean ?" was 
my stupid reply. 

" I mean this : I saw Mrs. Motfield this 
afternoon. I told her what I have told 
you. I pointed out to her other advan- 
tages hkely to ensue from such a step, 
which you would be scarcely able to com- 
prehend at present, and her reply was, ' I 
will leave it entirely to Annie. If you 
and she settle that she is to go, she shall 
go. It must be altogether as she chooses.' 
There is an unheard-of amount of confi- 
dence to place hi. a little woman no oJder 
than you are !" added Miss Wifforde, with 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 287 

a well-meant attempt at sprightliness. 
" So you see the decision rests with 
you, and none other," 

I did not answer for a little while ; then 
I said — 

"Grannie would be so lonely without me." 
" No doubt ; but mothers are lonely 
when they send their children to school, 
and yet they send them nevertheless. Mrs. 
Motfield is quite satisfied that it would 
be a good tliuig in every way for you to 
accept Miss Brundall's offer. You are not 
strong. You have been mopish and dull 
lately, she tells me. You ought to be 
amongst other young people ; you want 
change of air and scene and occupation. 
Besides, you have been in the habit of 
staying at Fairport, and Mrs. Motfield 
has gladly spared you to do so. You 
will be able to come home frequently, and 
tell all you have learnt and been busy about. 
I shall write to Miss Brundall to-night, and 
tell her it is settled." 



288 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

What was I to say ? what could I say ? 
To me the prospect was alhiring, and Miss 
Wifforde had evidently won my grand- 
mother's consent, 

I could only thank Miss Wifforde once 
agam ; I could only, the interview being 
virtually over, rise, and after going through 
that farce of hand-shaking, wliich it pleased 
the lady to perform, make my way out of 
the house, escorted to the hall-door by 
Hunter, who had been duly rung for in 
order to see me safely along the corri- 
dors and down that wonderful flight of 
stairs. 

I should have shaken hands with her at 
parting had she permitted me to forget my 
new dignity so far. Instead of noticing 
my intention, she drew back ; and making 
a little frigid and slightly satirical curtsey, 
she said, " Good afternoon. Miss Trenet," 
with an emphasis on the last two words 
which really made me feel ashamed of my 
name. 



MISS WIFFORDE MAXCEUVRES. 289 

After all, it was not my fault that Miss 
Wifforde had taken notice of me ; and 
greatly elated with my prospects, though 
with a certain consciousness that there was 
a drawback somewhere, I walked down the 
avenue and through the gates, and home 
along the sandy road, thinking as I went — 
thuiking, I grieve to say, with an ever- 
increasing happiness — of how pleased I 
should be to go to school, and see Fairport 
•once more. 

As Miss Wifforde had tiiily said, I did 
want change of air and scene and occupa- 
tion, and the very idea of change seemed 
to raise my spirits. Besides, socially I felt 
uplifted. My cousins could look down on 
me no longer, if I were once an inmate of 
Miss Brundall's school. No Motfield in his 
wildest dreams would ever have contem- 
plated asking for the admission of a 
daughter into that select estabhshment. I 
should learn — Oh, what should I not learn ! 
I should be able to play and sing ; I would 

VOL. I. 19 



290 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

study hard and become a good French 
scholar ; I would tiy to cany myself Kke 
Miss Cleeves ; I would make grannie proud 
of me ; I would bring back with me to the 
cottage news enough to fill it full from par- 
lour to attic ; I would send such long, long 
letters home ! Castle after castle I built 
in the air as I sauntered along, enjoying as 
I had not done for months before the sisfhts 
and sounds of nature. 

Soft was the turf under my tread ; green 
were the elm-trees in the Wifforde woods ; 
calm was the distant landscape, lyuig still 
and quiet in the evening light. My heart 
was fiill of joy. It did not hold a care or 
a thought of care as I unlatched the little 
gate, and walked round to the back door, 
as was the custom when the front one did 
not stand ajar. 

" I think the mistress is asleep," re- 
marked our abigail, who met me on the 
threshold. 

" I wont disturb her," was my answer ; 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 291 

and I entered the parlour so softly that she 
never woke. 

She sat in her accustomed easy-chaii', her 
head resting against the back, her face 
turned slightly towards the window. I 
wonder how it happened that the expres- 
sion of it should have struck me then, 
as it had never struck me before ! To the 
end of my life I shall not be able exactly 
to define what I thought and felt during 
that moment, while I stood looking at the 
worn sad face, at the lonely figure, at the 
thin hand which hung over one arm of the 
chair, at the grey hair smoothly braided 
under her widow's cap. I could see plainly 
that she had been crying. There were the 
traces of tears on her cheeks. There came 
even in her sleep now and then a little 
quiver of the eyeUds and a tremor at the 
corners of her mouth that I could not bear 
to look at. 

Wliere were my air-castles now ? where 
the dream I had so lately pictured as a 

19—2 



292 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

reality \ By some sort of intuition I felt 
that if I went away I should break her 
heart ; that she had left it to me to decide, 
because she would not in her utter unsel- 
fishness let her wishes or pleasures do vio- 
lence to mine. In the expression of that 
changed face, which could not in slumber 
mask itself with a fictitious brightness, 
there was a meaning I was then too young 
to grasp. All I understood was, that I 
could not go away ; that if I could help it 
she should never know I had wished even 
for a moment to go away. 

I never gave myself a second for deHbera- 
tion. More rapidly than 1 had built my 
house I razed it to the ground ; out of the 
room I slipped as quietly as I had en- 
tered it. 

" I am going out again for a few minutes, 
Mary," I said, as I passed through the 
kitchen ; "I shall be back by the time 
grannie wakes ;" and, that the click of the 
garden gate might not arouse her, I went 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 29r> 

along the paddock, jumped over the low 
hedge into the road, and then how I did 
run ! I do not think a greyhound could 
have reached the gates of the Wifforde 
domain much quicker than I did that 
evenmg. 

" You are out of breath. Miss," said the 
woman who had let me out so short a tmie 
before. 

" Yes," I answered, " I have been run- 
ino\ I want to see Miss Wifforde before 
— before they sit down to dinner." 

" The first bell has not rung yet," she 
remarked. 

" What is the first bell V was my in- 
quiry. 

"It rings half an hour before 
the dinner-bell; you need not hurry 
up to the house, you have plenty of 

time." 

And thus assured I slackened speed, 
even pausing now and then in order 
to recover my breath. There was no need 



294 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

for haste. I did not want to say anything 
then I should not be ready to repeat on 
the morrow. I had quite made up my 
mind. I was not afraid of speaking to 
Miss Wifforde now. I had settled upon 
the very words I should use. I hoped I 
should see her all alone m that same room 
where I had accepted her offer ; but 
whether I saw her alone or not, or in the 
same room or not, I determined I would 
try not to be stupid, but tell her I could 
not go to Fairport, that I would give it 
all up. 

As I was about to knock, Mr. Sylvester 
came and spoke to me. He was very 
kind ; asked me how I was, and hoped 
Mrs. Motfield's health was perfectly re- 
established, and then inquired if I wished 
to see his aunt. 

By this time he had turned the handle 
of the hall-door, and when I answered in 
the affirmative he ushered me into a small 
morning-room, where, after ringing the 



M/SS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 295 

bell, he stood talking till a footman ap- 
peared, when he said — 

" Inquire if Miss Wifforde can see Miss 
Trenet," and then continued talking, prm- 
cipally about his cousin. 

How still the house seemed ! What a 
contrast his quiet self-possession to the 
flurry and flutter of my own manner ! 
How I envied Hunter her stately com- 
posure when she came to announce that 
Miss Wifforde would be pleased to see me 
in her dressing-room, and then preceded 
me in dignified silence along those passages 
which were becoming almost familiar ! 

That Hunter hated me I felt confident, 
though why she did so I could only 
vaguely imagine ; and my courage was not 
increased by the wordless hostility of her 
manner. 

She did not knock at her mistress's door 
on this occasion, but, opening it wide, an- 
nounced " Miss Trenet," and then closed 
it behind me, not waiting to be told to go. 



.296 HOME, SWEET HOME. 



The half hour since I left Miss Wifforde 
had been sufficient to produce a metamor- 
phosis in the apartment and in her. The 
blinds were pulled down and the curtains 
drawn across the windows. Wax-candles 
stood lighted on the chimney-piece and 
dressing-table, and were reflected from 
every mirror on the walls. 

A jewel-case stood open, and I could see 
stones that almost dazzled me they were 
so bright, and gold bracelets, and chains, 
and rings. As for Miss Wifforde herself, 
she stood before the toilet-glass fastening a 
diamond brooch into a mass of soft net that 
covered her neck and shoulders, and she 
looked altogether so like my idea of a 
queen, that I remained with my lips parted 
when she turned towards me. 

The sight is just as present to my eyes 
now as it was then. Trailing over the light 
carjDet I see her ruby - coloured train 
trimmed with the richest lace ; flashing'- 
amongst the velvet and lace that composed 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 297 

her head-dress was a spray of diamonds ; 
her fingers, as she busied herself with the 
brooch, seemed to my imagination glitter- 
ing with gems. 

There was a dinner-party that evening- 
at the Great House, though I did not then 
know it. Notables from ten and twelve 
miles distance were at that moment dilving 
along various roads leading towards Love- 
dale. Decked out in lace and jewels that 
had been heirlooms for generations in the 
Wifibrde family stood the eldest of " our 
ladies," ready to sweep down the staircase 
into the drawing - room and receive her 
guests ; and there, in a dress which I had 
'outgrown, in a second-best pelisse, in a last 
year's bonnet, stood I, Annie Trenet, beside 
a mirror that reflected back every detail of 
my shabby costume. 

" I did not expect to see you agam this 
evening," remarked Miss Wifforde, finding 
I remained as silent as though turned into 
stone. 



^98 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

Then, as if the sound of her voice had 
l)roken some spell, I began. How I ever 
uttered the words I came to speak I cannot 
tell, but they were spoken. It seemed to 
me that somebody else, not myself, was 
talking a long way off; the rush of the 
Love was in my ears, there came a mist 
before my eyes ; and then m a moment it 
cleared away, and the rush of the waters 
leased, and I heard my own tongue saying — 

" I cannot go to Fau^port ; I cannot leave 
my grandmother." 

" What folly is tliis, child?" and she put 
her hand open upon the table as she turned 
and looked angrily at me. " Have you 
gone crazy, or has Mrs. Motfield, to treat 
me with such an utter want of respect T 

" I cannot leave her," I repeated. " I 
will not. She was asleep when I got home, 
and if you had only seen how she looked, 
indeed, ma'am, you would forgive me." 

" I do forgive you," she answered, puttmg 
her passion aside, and with an evident 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 299 

effort resuming her natural manner ; " that 
is to say, I will forgive you on one con- 
dition — namely, that I hear no more of this 
nonsense. Now go," she added, "for our 
guests may arrive at any moment." And 
she was on her way to the bell-rope when 
I stopped her. 

" Oh, Miss Wifforde, please, please do 
not be angry. You said it was to be left 
for me to decide, and I have decided. I 
oannot go ; I could not leave her." 

" Be kind enough to remove your hand 
from my dress," said Miss Wifforde. In 
my excitement I had seized her sku"t, and 
when I released my hold, she shook the 
silk as though shaking off the taint of some 
loathsome reptile. " Now Usten to me," 
she went on. " You must go to school, 
whether you please or whether you do not 
please, and I will tell you why. We can- 
not have Miss Cleeves back here until you 
are away. We are willing and wishful to 
advance your prospects in life, to give you 



300 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

the means of supporting yourself hereafter ; 
but we are determined that for the future 
our niece shall be debarred from an associa- 
tion which is as injurious to you as it is 
derogatory to her." 

I stepped back as if she had struck me. 
She was so indignant at the bare idea of 
having her plans frustrated, that she never 
paused to weigh her words, or to consider 
how deeply they might cut. I had taken 
her by surprise, and in turn she had taken 
me. 

After all, temper makes most people for 
the moment wonderfully alike. I could 
not have believed it possible for one of 
" our ladies " so nearly to resemble Mrs. 
Isaac Motfield as Miss Wifforde did in her 
manner at that moment. 

" You understand me," she said, with a 
haughty gesture and disdainful turn of her 
head, that I had often noticed in Miss 
Cleeves, " distinctly ?" 

"Yes," was my rej^ly, "but I shall not 
leave my grandmother." 



J//SS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 301 

" Then you and your grandmother must 
leave Lovedale, and you can tell her I 
say so." 

I waited for no more, but escaped from 
the room, tears of rage and mortification 
and terror bhnding me. In my fright I 
Tan up against Miss Hunter, whom I 
beheve to have been listening outside ; 
but without waiting to apologize, or even 
thinking of such a thmg, I sj)ed on, along 
the passage, down the stau'case, across the 
hall, through the door, which happily stood 
wide open, and so out into the twilight. 
Through my tears I saw the lamps of many 
carriages, as they came slowly up the drive, 
but I never paused to look at the people 
those carriages contained. My own con- 
cerns were all-sufficient for me, and I was 
half way home before I remembered that I 
should frighten my grandmother to death 
if I appeared before her with red cheeks 
and eyes swollen by crying. 

A little brook rippled across the common, 
and flowed beneath the road, and I knelt 



302 ■ HOME, SWEET HOME. 

down on the grass beside it, and bathed 
my face with the cold water till I imagined 
it must look like my own again. 

As I entered the kitchen, however, I 
was undeceived. 

" Lord sake, Miss Annie, what have you 
been doing to yourself? You look as if 
you had seen a ghost. You are as wliite 
as a sheet, and all of a tremble." 

" I am cold," was all the reply I vouch- 
safed, walking on towards the parlour, 
rubbing my cheeks the while, to put fresh 
colour into them. 

My grandmother was awake. 

" Where have you been, Annie, this long, 
long time T she asked. 

"At the Great House." 

" But you came in from there an hour 
ago, Mary told me." 

" I went back again ; I had forgotten 
something." 

She went on makmg the tea, and I stood 
beside the table, knowing I must sooner 



M/SS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 30[ 



or later tell her what had passed, and yet 
not having the slightest idea how I should 
do it. After waiting for a little, she paved 
the way for me herself 

" Did you see Miss Wiiforde, Annie V 

'* Yes, I saw her," was my reply. 

" And what did you and she settle ?" — 
this slowly, and after a pause. 

" We settled notliing," I answered. 
" Miss WifPorde said I should go to school, 
and I said I should not ; that I could not 
and would not leave you." 

She caught me to her heart mth a great 
sob of rehef. 

" Oh, Nannie, I was so afraid !" she 
whispered ; and then she loosened her 
clasp, and holdmg me from her at arm's 
length, asked what Miss Wiiforde said 
then. 

" Miss Wifforde said then," I repeated,, 
"that you and I must leave Lovedale 
together, and that I could tell you 
so." 



■804. HOME, SWEET HOME. 

For a moment she seemed like one 
stunned ; then she said — 

"Well, if we must, we must; we shall 
go together, at any rate." 

We did not talk much after that. We 
both sat silent for a long time, thinking 
each in her own fashion — my grandmother 
no doubt retracing the past, I busy with 
the present. Had I tried, I could not then 
have repeated Miss Wifforde's words ; the 
very memory of them seemed to choke me. 

I did not deserve them, I knew that. I 
had not asked Miss Cleeves to speak to me. 
I had never set myself up as a fit com- 
panion for her. I would have kept out of her 
way, if she would have kept out of mine. I 
had not been disrespectful to Miss Wifibrde ; 
I had a right to stay with my grandmother 
if I wished to stay with her, and she wished 
me to do so." 

Vaguely I understood the unreasonable 
pride, the intense selfishness, the detestable 
despotism, that underlay Miss Wifibrde's 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 305 

proposition. I was a something to be got out 
of the way, peaceably if possible ; but when 
I would not go peaceably she showed that 
she meant to drive me off with contiunely 
and reproach. 

I sat in our little room, chafing in silence 
over the recollection of the cruel mterview, 
wondering if the woman I had seen m so 
terrible a rage could really be the same 
who rebuked Miss Cleeves for her lack of 
courtesy. 

I hated Miss Wifforde as much as I 
feared her. Mentally I called her every 
evil name my poor vocabulary of abuse con- 
tained ; I ascribed to her every sin I knew 
of; I wished I had it in my power to do 
her harm ; I thought I should like to hear 
of her being ill and in sorrow ; but through 
all my tortuous meditations I kept one 
clear idea before me — I would not tell my 
grandmother what Miss Wifforde had said. 
For the first time I resolved to keep a 
secret from her. 

VOL. I. 20 



306 HOME, SWEET HOME. 

At length we went to bed, both of us 
sad at heart, and yet both of us glad, 
because we had learnt how dear each was 
to the other. 

All the night long I kept tossmg from 
side to side — now dozing, now dreaming, 
now starting, never sleeping soundly — so 
that, when morning dawned, my head was 
aching so badly, that I could not lift it 
from the pillow ; and I lay on hour after 
hoiu-, waiting for that sleep which would, 
my grandmother declared, make me quite 
well. 

At last it came. The cooing of the 
pigeons, the prating of the hens, the 
cawing of the crows, and the bleating of 
the lambs first mixed and mingled together, 
and then were heard no more. 

How long that slumber lasted I cannot 
tell. I only know I awoke with a confused 
sense of some one standuig by my bedside, 
and opening my eyes, I beheld Miss Wif- 
forde ! 



MISS WIFFORDE MANCEUVRES. 307 

" Lie still," she said, laying her hand on 
my shoulder as I was startmg up. " I have 
come to beg your pardon. I was wrong 
yesterday evening. Will you forgive me T 

"Oh, Miss Wiffordel" I cried, "I will 
do anything you like, if you only let 
grannie stay here, and me with her." 



END OF VOL. I. 



LONDON: 

SATItL, BDWi.BDS AND CO., PBINTEBS, CHAND03 SIBBBT, 

COVENT GARDEN. 




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